INDIANAPOLIS — The University of Central Oklahoma rowing team is set to compete in the NCAA Division II National Championships this weekend at the Indianapolis Rowing Center at Eagle Creek Park. Preliminary racing began yesterday, with the final heats set for today.
Central Oklahoma — the defending national champions — is the top-rated team in the nation heading into this weekend's championships. UCO has been No. 1 in the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association's national rankings for nearly two complete seasons. The Bronchos have the top-rated Varsity 8+ boat as well as the top-rated Varsity 4+ boat.
"Our goal is obviously to win it all," UCO head coach Montia Rice said. "We came so close for a couple of years and then last year we were able to put it all together and win. Now we just want to do the same."
Six teams have made it to the national championships. UCO is joined by Jefferson University (Pa.), Seattle Pacific, Western Washington, Florida Tech and UC San Diego.
The V8s raced first with their preliminary race scheduled for late-morning Friday. There, UCO paced against Jefferson University and Seattle Pacific in Heat 1. The V4s raced in their prelim against Jefferson and Western Washington, also in Heat 1. The winners of Friday's prelims advance directly to Sunday’s Grand Finals.
Saturday will consist of repechage racing at 10:36 a.m. (V8+) and 10:48 a.m. (V4+). The top two teams in each heat will advance to Sunday's Grand Finals.
Sunday is championship day with the V4+ petite final (fifth- and sixth-place) set for 9:24 a.m. and followed by the V4+ Grand Final at 9:36 a.m., the V8+ petite final at 9:48 a.m., and the V8+ Grand Final at 10 a.m.
Team points are awarded based on school's finishes in each boat.
Central Oklahoma's V8+ boat has won the national title in each of the past two seasons — earning maximum team points for the Bronchos toward a team title. The Bronchos finished fourth in 2015 and second in 2016 before taking over as the top boat in the country for now nearly three seasons.
UCO's V4+ boat has finished third, second, third, and second again, in UCO's four previous national championship appearances. The fours are aiming to continue that climb to the top this season as the boat has not lost a race this spring.
UCO finished fourth in 2015 before earning national runners-up in 2016 and 2017. Central put it all together last season in winning its first team national championship.