Women’s crew earns NCAA berth

Within a week of setting its fastest time of the 2005 season, the UCSD women’s crew varsity-eight boat has been chosen as one of two at-large teams to be represented at the NCAA Division II Women’s Rowing Championships in Sacramento, Calif., from May 27 through May 29.

Head coach Pattie Pinkerton emphasized the significance of the achievement for the entire team, not just those individuals on the qualifying boat.

“While only nine women will be sitting in the boat on the starting line, this has come about through the hard work of the team,” Pinkerton stated in a press release. “This is a transformational moment for UCSD women’s crew, and one we have been working toward for some time.”

The selection comes following a season of several significant accomplishments, most recently a second-place finish at the Pacific Coast Rowing Championships on May 14 at Lake Natoma, Calif. The varsity-eight boat conquered the seemingly insurmountable seven-minute barrier for the two-kilometer course, which put the squad in a position to be selected as an at-large team in the upcoming NCAA Championships.

The nine Tritons who will compete in Sacramento are junior coxswain Arianna Pilram, senior Anne Roddy, junior Meghan Kelly, senior Sarah Smolley, junior Cara Kuebert, sophomore Leah Llach, freshman Vanessa Jansen, junior Christine King and junior Dannon Hodge, with junior Melanie Kaelberer and senior Liz Record as alternates.

This is the first time the Tritons have been invited to the event since its establishment in 2002. Since that time, UC Davis was crowned with the title twice before being dethroned by Mercyhurst College of Erie, Penn., in 2004.

Mercyhurst will return to the annual regatta hosted by Cal State Sacramento at the Cal State Sacramento Aquatic Center to represent the East region and to defend its team title against the three other qualifying teams.

The other represented programs in the team competition are Western Washington University from the West region, Nova Southeastern University of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., racing on behalf of the South region and the Florida Institute of Technology from Melbourne, Fla., which will compete as an at-large team.

The remaining boats, UCSD and Barry University of Miami Shores, Fla., are designated as at-large programs that will not be represented in the team competition. These slots are saved for two of the most qualified programs in the country that do not automatically qualify regionally.

Team and individual boat selections were based on several criteria, including student-athlete availability, head-to-head competition, late-season performance, regional rankings, regional championship results, results against teams already selected, results against regionally ranked teams and results against common opponents. The formula is essentially designed to guarantee an all-around competitive race from each of the six boats entered.

In addition to Mercyhurst’s advantage of experience at the race, Western Washington, Barry and Florida Tech will all be sending veteran programs to the NCAA Division II Women’s Rowing Championships.

In 2004, Western Washington finished fourth behind third-place Florida Tech, second-place Humboldt State and champion Mercyhurst.

In the two previous years since the event’s inception, the Vikings found themselves stuck as runner-up behind UC Davis.

Barry has twice been kept out of medal contention, with back-to-back fourth-place finishes in 2002 and 2003.