Women’s varsity eight takes fifth at WIRAs

The UCSD women’s varsity crew team competed in the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships — its second-to-last race of the regular spring season — on April 30 and May 1 at Lake Natoma, Calif. The varsity eight-boat finished fifth in the third final, the varsity four took 12th overall, and the Tritons’ pair took third behind first-place UC Irvine.

While illness among the team members necessitated a late lineup change, women’s crew gave a strong showing. The varsity eight-boat, made up of seniors Anne Roddy, Sara Smolley, Liz Record, juniors Dannan Hodge, Cara Kuebert, Leah Llach, Melanie Kaelberer, Arianna Pilram, and sophomore Megan Hagquist as coxswain, finished fifth in the third final. The team was barely one boat length off the pace of rival Humboldt State.

Senior Meghan Kelly was unable to race in the varsity-eight competition due to pneumonia, but attended the championships to support her team. She was pleased with the varsity eight’s showing.

“The team responded really well to lineup changes,” Kelly said. “During the heats on [April 30], the team was still getting used to the new lineup, but by [May 1], they were used to the lineup and it showed. The boat’s speed was constant, and there weren’t any lags during the race, which is a good sign.”

The varsity four-boat — manned by juniors Katie Morris, Christine King, and Phoebe Lee and sophomores Helenaz Moteabbed, and Megan Hatlen at coxswain — came in 12th place overall.

The Triton pair, a two-person boat, also had another chance to race this season. The pair finished third overall, trailing UC Irvine and Sacramento State, which finished first and second, respectively.

The varsity lightweight four pulled off a third-place finish as well, while the second varsity eight-boat came in 12th place.

In the novice competition, UCSD’s novice lightweight four and novice four both finished third overall. The novice four-boat came in first in its heat, eclipsing Saint Mary’s by three seconds and finishing solidly ahead of the other competitors. The novice eight-boat crossed the finish line in fourth place — the highest finish among all the nonscholarship schools.

As the season winds down, the women’s crew team is still working on its original goals from the beginning of the season. Their focus is on the third 500 meters of the 2000-meter race, to maintain speed, consistency and come through in a vital part of the race.

“We’re still working on that goal,” Kelly said. “But the fact that the speed was steady this past weekend was a good sign. Hopefully we can make even more progress on that third 500 and gain more on Humboldt.”

Kelly said that the team’s goal for the next competition is to beat Humboldt and to make an impression on the NCAA Committee so the team will be invited to Nationals.

The Tritons women’s crew team next competes on May 14 at the Pacific Coast Rowing Championships, also to be held at Lake Natoma.