PHILADELPHIA – The Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) women's rowing team received the East Region's automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Championships on May 31-June 2 at the Indianapolis Rowing Center in Indianapolis, Ind. The selections were announced on Monday evening by the NCAA.
The Rams are one of six teams that will bring their varsity eight and varsity four to Indiana to compete for the national championship. Jefferson will row against Florida Tech (South Region), Central Oklahoma (West Region), Seattle Pacific (at-large), UC San Diego (at-large) and Western Washington (at-large).
"This has been our goal from day one," said head coach Chris O'Brien. "This year, we saw a team dynamic very early in the fall, which was 'I want to work hard, excel and be better.' That was the sense we got at practice every day so I would say the best word for this group is 'committed.' Over the course of the year, we faced some adversity like every other team. Every time, another person has risen to the occasion. We have a roster where every member has been key for us to get to this point."
Jefferson earned the automatic berth as the top-ranked team in the East Region. The Rams are making their third team appearance at the NCAA Championships, finishing third in 2010 and fourth in 2009. Jefferson also competed in the varsity eight event as an at-large selection in 2015 and 2008.
The Rams' varsity eight went undefeated against regional competition this season and the varsity four finished behind a regional opponent just once during the campaign. Jefferson's varsity eight finished fourth in the Grand Final at the Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta with the varsity four coming in sixth place.
"Last year, we watched the selection show and were disappointed to not get a bid," said junior Madison Okerson. "From that point, we knew we had to work harder and more consistently. As a team, we decided that we were going to run an extra 50 miles and lift more to get to a better fitness level. This season, we worked hard and pushed each other to do better in every part of our training. We are excited to see that pay off now and we are going to the NCAA Championships with the hope of winning a trophy."
Check JeffersonRams.com for detailed coverage in the days leading up to and during the event.