Northwestern State University will have two boats competing in the American Collegiate Rowing Association National Championship Regatta May 28-29 on Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia.
Competitors include the Women’s Varsity 4+ boat with rowers Jami LeBlanc of Jennings, Melissa Pesacreta of Lafayette, Glory Deaton of Pineville, Holly Smith of Baton Rouge, and coxed by Nicole Plunkett of New Orleans. The Men’s Varsity 4+ boat consists of rowers Derek Donald of San Antonio, Anthony Hunter of Morgan City, Terran Turner and Branden Savell of Shreveport, LA and coxed by Jennifer Simmons of Stonewall.
The Women’s Varsity 4+ is coming off a win at the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association Conference Championships, NSU’s first conference championship in rowing.
“As with any national competition, it is an honor that we had rowers make it this far and be competitive,” said rowing coach Jason Stelly. “The sport demands a lot and I am very proud of the team this year. To compete against the schools we compete against and still beat them is very impressive and reflects the work and dedication that these students have.”
More than 300 entries from 64 colleges and universities will compete in the regatta over the course used for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
“It’s exciting to know you are racing over the same course used for the Olympics,” said LeBlanc. “It’s a beautiful course with a tower that includes the five Olympic rings. You feel like you are on an elite course.”
The crew members have given up a month of summer vacation to compete in the national championships. The squads have gone through two-a-day workouts to prepare for their toughest regatta of the year.
“The extra work has benefitted us a lot,” said LeBlanc. “Since classes are out, it has helped us in terms of being able to schedule workouts. We have been able on focus on rowing. We are learning how to get past the threshold we need to. Rowing is hard and you have to push yourself when you are at your limit.”
This is the first time Northwestern State has competed in the National Championship Regatta since 2012.
“Our coaches deserve a lot of credit,” said LeBlanc. “They have put in a great deal of time and effort to help us improve. I think some of the techniques they have developed will help us drop our times.”
All participants in the National Championship Regatta are club sports.