Women's Crew Wraps Up WIRAs

    The UCSD women’s crew team rowed its varsity eight boat to a first-place finish at the Division II Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships for the first time in UCSD history in the event on April 28 and 29 in Sacramento, Calif.

    Sanh Luong/Guardian
    The women’s crew team has made a strong showing this postseason, but must await an announcement on national bids on May 15 to find out if the season will continue.

    “”We have been working extremely hard and it always feels great to have that hard work come together in a successful race,”” junior varsity rower Kali Webb said.

    The Triton squad has shown improvement every year, finishing second last year and not placing at all in the final round the previous year. This year UCSD now stands as the second-ranked team in the Western region and third in the nation for Division II.

    “”We have a fully integrated team and I believe every member makes a contribution to the team,”” head coach Pattie Pinkerton said. “”We just keep getting faster and stronger.””

    What’s more is that the Tritons came out on top of Cal State Long Beach, which took second place, and Seattle Pacific University, which took third, by an astounding 15-second margin. UCSD had beaten Cal State Long Beach several times already in the season, but both Cal State Long Beach and Seattle Pacific University have reputations in the Western region for finishing the season strong, according to Pinkerton.

    “”I am very pleased by the performance of all the women,”” Pinkerton said. “”Winning by 15 seconds at this level is like winning by a mile.””

    Four seniors, Leah Llach, Megan Hatlen, co-captain Monica Switick and bow seat Megan Hagquist, took the water in the winning varsity eight boat. The seniors were joined by juniors, coxswain Leslie Sjobom, Jen Myers, Kelsey Thomas, Webb and sophomore Anna Simeon.

    In the race, the Tritons had a solid start and continued to push further ahead of the other boats to gain a lead of two boat lengths by the 1,000-meter mark. They continued to press the gap and had pushed themselves to a five-boat-length lead by the 2,000-meter finish line. Cal State Long Beach and Seattle Pacific University then battled it out for second, with Cal State Long Beach easing into a half-length lead.

    “”Our boat this year feels awesome,”” Webb said. “”We swing together and kick out together so when we are a unit on the technical parts of rowing, it makes high ratings feel calm and easy.””

    The Tritons’ pace is an average of 34 strokes per minute, 38 during a sprint, and it was this speed that enabled them to sail ahead of their competitors. Individually, Llach and Hagquist were elected to receive all-WIRA Second Team honors. They were two of 16 women selected for First and Second Team honors out of the 935 women competing at the championship event.

    After the WIRAs came to a close, the Tritons competed at the Pacific Coast Rowing Championships on May 12 to try to earn a bid to the NCAA nationals for the third consecutive year.

    In the WIRAs, UCSD posted on the podium in six of six events, with 18 athletes doubling up to bring home a total of 31 medals. The Tritons finished fourth overall at nationals last year and their goals are to defeat their toughest competitor, Western Washington University, and to finish in first or second on the podium. Despite planning for the upcoming event, the Tritons will not even know whether they will be playing until the announcement of national bids on May 15.

    “”After so many achievements this season it’s only a matter of time before we accomplish our next ‘impossible’ goal by winning nationals,”” Pinkerton said. “”Our strength is that we rely on everyone to contribute to the goal, and everyone pulls their own weight. It works because we work together.””

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