Viking crew casts off

Crew club starts winter season
 Crew members: Jessica Hacker (center) and Michelle Matchulat (right) practice in the Rec Center. Viking rowers will use rowing machines in their first competition of the year.Drew Martig / Vanguard Staff
Crew members: Jessica Hacker (center) and Michelle Matchulat (right) practice in the Rec Center. Viking rowers will use rowing machines in their first competition of the year.

Winter chills have taken the Portland State Crew team off the water, but the club is still busy on land training for their spring season. With water time at a minimum, crew teams have found an interesting alternative to racing in boats: indoor crew. In mid-February, the team will compete in the Tough Love Indoor Rowing Championships, a dry-land competition which uses rowing machines and monitors to simulate an outdoor race.

Crew President Emily Siegel said the regatta is a way for the team to practice competing when they can’t be on the water. She said the event consists of rowing machines lined up attached to screens that display names and an icon representing each team’s boat. The faster the teams row on the machines, the faster their icon moves forward on the screen.

The club has a variety of members ranging from novice to varsity and competes against many of the Oregon and Washington university club teams. The Tough Love race will get the team members ready for the spring races, which make up part of the busiest season of the year. Competitions will be held nearly every weekend.

Portland State competes in four- and eight-person races in three categories―varsity, junior varsity and novice. Varsity is for the most experienced rowers, many of whom Siegel said competed in high school or have previously rowed at other colleges. Junior varsity is considered a B-team varsity, while novice is for new rowers.

“We have about 25 people on the team right now, and over half of them were new this fall,” Siegel said. “Most had zero experience coming in. We had a lot of freshmen students, but in three weeks they were out there really working and really picking it up.”

The club has been growing steadily since it was founded in 1995.

“Back when it started, it was on a plastic dock and it was only single and doubles boats, and now we have a whole fleet,” Siegel said. “It’s evolved and expanded so much since then.”

The team has two coaches, head coach Liz Moore and assistant coach Lana Bowie. Both coaches rowed on Gonzaga’s team before coming to Portland State. Siegel said that Bowie generally works with the novice rowers and Moore with the varsity and junior varsity members. However, sometimes practices are set up with the coaches working separately with the men and women to simulate the competitions.

Siegel said that this year’s team dynamics and coaching staff have made the early morning practice schedule something enjoyable for all the rowers.

“The minute I got out of the water I just saw the city in a different way, being out there so early, and it’s just so calm,” Siegel said. “And, it’s also a really good full-body workout; before I started I thought it would just be about your arms but it isn’t at all, it’s everything. And then the team itself is just such a great experience, we’re like a family.”

Later this spring the team will host their annual Erg-A-Thon at the Saturday Farmers Market on the PSU campus. Here, people can donate money for every meter rowed by PSU crew members on their Erg rowing machines. Interested individuals should check the team’s website at for updated information on the date of the fundrasier.

The team recruits new members at the beginning of every term. Interested individuals can learn more about the club by stopping by the Club Office in the second floor of the Rec Center.


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