Women's Crew Tops Last Year's Finish

    The UCSD women’s crew team finished its best season ever, making school history with a second-place title in the NCAA Championships on May 25 to May 27.

    Both the UCSD varsity-eight and varsity-four boats in the competition fell only seconds behind reigning champion Western Washington University. Up to this point, the Tritons had come as far as third place in the national standings.

    “”It brought chills to us on the banks, to watch both teams row through to a second place finish,”” head coach Patti Pinkerton said. “”Western Washington [University] has dominated this event for the past four years, and while we are still chasing them, we are also looking to improve our performances.””

    The varsity-eight boat of seniors Megan Hagquist, Megan Hatlen, Leah Llach and Monica Switwick; juniors Kali Webb, Kelsey Thoman, Jen Myers and coxswain Leslie Sjobom; and sophomore Anna Simeon captured second place with a time of 7 minutes 9.51 seconds, barely behind first-place Western Washington’s finish in 7 minutes 3.8 seconds. The Tritons beat Dowling University and Nova Southeastern University in the race.

    Off the line, Dowling University took a slight lead on the other three boats with a quick flutter play, in which the boat increases its ratings to make a mad dash. The Tritons stuck to their game plan of technical calls, power calls and team calls and held their rating at a solid 34 strokes per minute.

    The Vikings eventually pulled ahead, leaving UCSD and Dowling University to battle it out during the final push. Both teams were trading the lead in a very neck-on-neck competition.

    As the Tritons moved into the last 500-meter mark, Sjobom called the rating up by two beats to move past Dowling University by half a seat in five strokes. The junior coxswain then bumped ratings all the way up to 38 for the last surge through Dowling University and a final 41 rating to pull away from them for second place.

    “”We have two lightweights in our boat and probably under-weigh Dowling and Western Washington by about 25 pounds a woman, but the eight rowed beautifully and kept their poise and rowed their hearts out,”” Pinkerton said.

    The varsity-four boat, which consisted of junior Kim Schafer and sophomores Caryn Urbanczyc, Jill Peacock, Alissa Kispersky and coxswain Stephanie Chang, also raced very successfully.

    They exploded off the line, a skill the team had been working toward all year, while Western Washington University also started strong and managed a slim one seat advantage over UCSD. The Tritons would not let the Vikings get away easily, as they held onto the gap through the 1,000-meter mark while Western Washington University rowed ahead to finish only six seconds faster than UCSD.

    “”Our goal this year was to stand on that podium, and we showed that we deserved it by finishing second,”” Chang said. “”Western Washington was strong this year, and they earned their first-place finishes as much as we earned our second places. A solid second-place finish as a team was only a dream for us at the beginning of the season. So making dreams come true is pretty satisfying, and we will continue to dream big for next season.””

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