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LMU Captures First Ever WCC Rowing Championship

April 28, 2006

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - For the second time in 10 days, LMU is a conference champion as the women's crew team captured its first ever WCC Championship this afternoon at Lake Natoma in Sacramento, CA. The Lions edged Gonzaga in the closest title race in conference history. After three races, both programs finished with 27 points, but the Lions earn the crown based on a 4.5 second victory in the varsity 8 race. Four Lions earned All-WCC honors, and head coach Patrick Kelly was named the WCC Coach of the Year for the third time.

"I couldn't be more proud of this group. They've been working really hard all year. Every boat has faced adversity this year with sickness, injuries and stress with school. But everyone stayed focused and hung together as a team. That's what we needed today- a complete team effort," said Kelly.

The WCC Championships tests a team's depth with three races- the varsity 8 (15 points to the winner), the 2nd varsity 8 (10 points to the winner) and the varsity 4 (5 points to the winner).

LMU started out the day with a second place finish in the varsity 4 race. Gonzaga won the race with a time of 7:40.0, earning five points. LMU finished with a time of 7:50.6, earning four points towards the final standings.

The varsity 4 boat consisted of: coxswain Amy Guion, stroke Sydney Johnson, Jen Topor, Whitney Scholl and bow Lindsay Vitort.

The Lions stayed in the hunt for the conference title with another second place finish in the 2nd Varsity 8 race. It was a smaller margin of victory for Gonzaga, who earned 10 points for the first place finish with a time of 6:47.3. LMU finished one boat length behind with a time of 6:53.5 to earn eight points.

The 2nd varsity 8 boat included coxswain Mona Sumibcay, stroke Kathryn Maloney, Bettina Messerli, Meggan Brunette, Janelle Brunette, Jen Glassman, Marni Hietbrink, Renee Thompson and bow Larissa Meltz.

The championship came down to the final race. LMU had 12 points heading into the final race and needed a win in the varsity 8 to earn its first WCC title. The varsity 8 boat was undefeated against WCC opponents heading into the championships.

The Lions led from the start with a great pull off the line. Slowly they pulled away from the other boats, and by the 500 meter mark, the Lions were a full boat length ahead of everyone.

For the second time in three years, the Lions defeated Gonzaga in the varsity 8 race, earning 15 points with a time of 6:38.8. Gonzaga finished a boat length behind with a time of 6:43.3 to earn 12 points.

"The WCC crews have been racing tight with one another all year and this varsity 8 race showed that. We knew going in that we would have to have a strong race to win the varsity 8 and win the championships," said Kelly.

Members of the varsity 8 boat were coxswain Jennifer Guess, stroke Liz Stewart, Carla Conway, Christina Duechle, Courtney Cox, Alli Mitrovich, Kristi Adams, Erin Ludwig and bow Jill Austin.

LMU and Gonzaga both finished with 27 points for the closest race in WCC Championships history. But according to according to section 2 (c) of the WCC handbook on page 62, LMU is the champion based on its win in the Varsity 8 race. The rule states: "In the event of a tie for overall champion, placement (highest finisher) in the I-Eight Race shall be the tiebreaker."

Four Lions earned All-WCC honors - senior Liz Stewart, junior coxswain Jennifer Guess, sophomore Jill Austin and freshman Christina Duechle. In addition, Head Coach Patrick Kelly was named the WCC Coach of the Year. It is the third time that Kelly has earned the honor, winning in 2004 and 2000.

"As a senior, it is an incredible feeling to go out on top," said captain Erin Ludwig. "This is the culmination of four years of hard work. It is great to see my younger teammates experience this as well."

LMU breaks Gonzaga's streak of nine straight WCC championships with the win today. In the 10 years of WCC Championships, the Lions' best finish was in 2004 when the team finished in second place, falling to Gonzaga by one point. LMU won the varsity 8 race for the first time, but finished second in the 2nd Varsity 8 and third in the Varsity 4.

It has been an exciting 10 day stretch for LMU Athletics. On April 18th, the LMU men's golf team won its first ever WCC Championship.

The weekend of championships isn't over for the Lions. On Saturday and Sunday, the boats will compete at the WIRA Championships in Lake Natoma. The schedule of events can be found here.

Final Point Standings:
1. LMU - 27
2. Gonzaga - 27
3. Saint Mary's - 13
4. Santa Clara - 12
5. San Diego - 11

I-Eight Results
1. LMU, 6:38.8, 15 points
2. Gonzaga, 6:43.3, 12 points
3. Santa Clara, 6:46.7, 9 points
4. Saint Mary's, 6:48.2, 6 points
5. San Diego, 6:49.3, 3 points

II-Eight Results
1. Gonzaga, 6:47.3, 10 points
2. LMU, 6:53.5, 8 points
3. San Diego, 7:03.8, 6 points
4. Saint Mary's, 7:10.8, 4 points
5. Santa Clara, 7:12.3, 2 points

I-Four Results
1. Gonzaga, 7:40.0, 5 points
2. LMU, 7:50.6, 4 points
3. Saint Mary's, 7:55.9, 3 points
4. San Diego, 8:02.8, 2 points
5. Santa Clara, 8:32.0, 1 point

2006 All-West Coast Conference Rowing Team
Jill Austin, Loyola Marymount
Christina Duechle, Loyola Marymount
Liz Stewart, Loyola Marymount

Sarah Allison, Gonzaga
Kari Durgan, Gonzaga
Lindsey Anderson, Saint Mary's
Tracy Flecky, Santa Clara
Jacquelyn Harris, San Diego
Coxswain - Jennifer Guess, Loyola Marymount
Coach of the Year: Patrick Kelly, Loyola Marymount