Beginning on Friday, May 31, the UC San Diego women’s rowing team headed to the NCAA Division II Women’s Rowing Championships. The Tritons came into the championship ranked No. 3 out of six total teams. The last time UC San Diego qualified for the championship as a full participant was in 2017 (in 2018 only their eight-rower boat participated). UCSD, however, has never won a national title. The closest the Tritons have gotten was runner-up in 2007 and 2008. This year, the Tritons hope to change that and earn their first title.
For the championship, UCSD fielded two boats, one of eight rowers and one of four rowers. The rowers on the Varsity 8 team were sophomore coxswain Juni Kim, senior Tonya Khounani, senior Brooke Campbell, junior Audrey Ruttan, junior Caitlan Tribelhorn, sophomore Sarah Proctor, sophomore Kyley Jones, junior Morgan Dewing, and senior Alana Zaleski. The Varsity 4 team consisted of senior coxswain Marie Kawahara, senior Madeleine Wagner, senior Evelyn Brady, freshman Sydney Colburn, and senior Isabela Martinez.
On Friday, May 31, the first day of competition, the Tritons Eights and Fours teams both came in last place, finishing third in their respective heats. The Eights team finished in 06:40.80 and the Fours team recorded a time of 07:45.92. The Fours team was neck and neck with second-place Seattle Pacific University for much of the race, closely tailing Seattle Pacific for the first 1000 meters, but the Tritons eventually fell behind in the final meters to finish in third. The Eights team had a similar race, staying close to the runner-up for most of the race, only falling behind at the end. For the Eights team, the difference between second-place Florida Institute of Technology and third-place UCSD was 0.34 seconds.
Though head coach Colin Truex was not satisfied with the outcomes of the first day’s races, he remained positive. With regard to the Eights, Truex said in a post-game press conference, “I thought the V8 had a very good race, but definitely left a little speed on the water, as far as some periods of the race where they didn’t have the rhythm they usually had.” He did finish on an optimistic note, saying, “They did a good job of getting their nerves out and getting the experience of racing NCAA again.”
On the next day of the championship, UCSD’s Eights and Fours teams both qualified for the repechage round. Once again, however, the two boats both finished in third place. The Eights boat completed their 2000 meters in 7:10.88; the Fours boat finished in 08:22.98.
The two teams made it into the Petite Final, competing in that round for 5th or 6th place. The Eights team came up short in their last race, finishing second. The Tritons came out strong in their first 500 meters, leading opponent Jefferson Rams by almost a full second. However, in the next 500 meters, UCSD lost its lead and stayed behind for the rest of the race. The team finished its race with a time of 06:46.04. The Fours team had more success, coming in first in their race. They led opponent Jefferson for the entire race, never giving up their lead, finishing in 07:40.84.
“I am really happy with the way the Fours performed,” Truex said. “They asserted themselves with a lead and kept walking away and that’s exactly what we talked about last night, making sure we finish really strong and row really hard for the seniors.”
Truex compared the Fours and Eights boats favorably, noting the near success of the Eights boat.
“The Eights seemed like they were well on their way to do the same thing, but they had that over-the-head crab about 500 meters in and it just stopped us dead in our tracks … You lose five or six seconds because of a crab, it’s hard to come back from that,” Truex said. “That’s a little bit of a disappointing result, but they fought back and kept going.”
With the end of their national title run, UCSD rowing ends their 2018-2019 season. They finished fifth in Fours and sixth in Eights in the NCAA Championship.