QV grads Merriman, Christensen excel for college rowing teams
Quaker Valley graduates Annika Christensen and Jane Merriman shined at steering boats for nationally ranked NCAA Division I women’s rowing teams.
Christensen, a freshman coxswain, was part of the Southern Cal first varsity eight that placed fourth at the Pac-12 championship regatta May 19.
Earlier on the same boat, she helped the Trojans to their 18th consecutive win over crosstown rival UCLA. At the Lake Natoma Invitational in California, she coxed the Trojans to first place against Notre Dame and Gonzaga.
USC coach Josh Adam said it took Christensen a good portion of the season to adjust. He expects her to take on a greater leadership role.
“(She has) lot of time to contribute to the Trojan family,” he said.
Christensen, who plans to major in archaeology, said the biggest adjustment was morning practice. In high school, she trained after school with the Three Rivers Junior Rowing team on Washington’s Landing.
Christensen was disappointed the Trojans, who placed sixth at the Pac-12 regatta, were not invited to the NCAA championship. They ranked 13th in the USRowing/Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association Division I poll as of May 15.
Merriman, a Wisconsin senior, was the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award Honoree selected from each team at the conference championship. Merriman coxed the Badger third varsity four to fourth place and was surprised to be honored.
“They didn’t tell me beforehand,” said Merriman, a Three Rivers Junior Rowing team product. “I ran up on stage with my muddy waterproof pants and my rain jacket still on.”
Wisconsin coach Bebe Bryans said Merriman has been a leader for the 11th-ranked Badgers, who placed third at the conference championship and were invited to the NCAA championship for the 12th consecutive season.
“She has been really good at taking the younger rowers and teaching them how to improve technically, as well as race well together,” Bryans said.
Karen Kadilak is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.