Men's crew loses leadership of two rowers

    UCSD men’s crew made history this year by being the first Triton crew to go to the Division II National Championships in New Jersey. Two graduating seniors, Brian Sullivan and Tom Witzgall, were key elements in the men’s varsity-eight boat and will be missed.

    Courtesy of UCSD Athletics

    Sullivan, a four-year rower from Redlands, Calif., and team co-captain for the past two years, picked up crew as an alternative to another sport.

    “”I played football in high school,”” said the electrical engineering major, who plans to graduate next year. “”I was on Library Walk where they were recruiting for the crew team. I guess the rest is history.””

    But it wasn’t as easy as Sullivan makes it sound. During his senior year of high school, the four-time winner of the UCSD Oarsman of the Year Award broke his femur and tore the anterior crucial ligament in his knee while playing football.

    Courtesy of UCSD Athletics

    “”I considered playing rugby,”” Sullivan said. “”But I didn’t want to tear my knee up again. I figured I could still compete with a team while letting my knee heal.””

    Although he’s been the captain of the varsity team for the past two seasons, Sullivan cites a race during his sophomore season as his favorite memory of crew.

    “”We were neck-and-neck with Sacramento State [University],”” Sullivan said. “”They had beaten us earlier in the season and were trying to make a move on us. We could hear their coxswain yelling at them, saying ‘we’re walking on them.’ One of our rowers yelled back ‘no you’re not!’ It got everybody together and we ended up beating them by a lot.

    “”That’s what this sport is all about: what you can do when everybody is together as a team.””

    The other senior who’s rowed his last race for UCSD is Witzgall. A latecomer, Witzgall didn’t start rowing until his sophomore year after finishing a year of pole-vaulting on the Tritons’ track and field team.

    “”I wanted to do something new,”” Witzgall said. “”I thought crew would be more fun.””

    Witzgall, from Sacramento, Calif., came to UCSD for the beach and found his place in the water as the two-seat on the varsity-eight boat this season. After graduating with a degree in ecology, Witzgall plans to make a leap to Washington State University in Pullman, Wash., for graduate school.

    “”Crew was a good experience for me,”” he said. “”It’s different from any other sport because there is so much emphasis put on the team concept. To be successful, the whole team has to be together.””

    Losing only two rowers to graduation, UCSD crew will look to improve on a season that saw high expectations and a topsy-turvy race season.

    “”We had a very good novice team this year and, along with our returning varsity rowers. We expect have a very strong team [next season],”” said UCSD head coach Michael Filippone earlier in the year.

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