Top-Ranked Women of Troy Claim Natoma Invitational Title
April 21, 2013
GOLD RIVER, Calif. - USC's No. 1-ranked women's rowing team closed out the weekend with the team championship in hand at the 2013 Lake Natoma Invitational on Sunday, April 21. The Women of Troy won the varsity eight event and finished second in finals for the second varsity eight and the varsity four boats.
"This was a very good regatta for us," said head coach Zenon Babraj. "It was a good experience and especially difficult because it was after a couple of big wins in San Diego. We beat the No. 2 crew in the country, today. We had a good Saturday and won all our races, but the main races were today when we raced Cal and Stanford in the finals."
On the final morning of races, the Trojans went head to head with second-ranked California and No. 8 Stanford down the 2000-meter course against a mild north-by-northwest crosshead wind.
In the Trojans' first varsity race of the day, the varsity four clocked a time of 7:20.00, just 3.90 seconds behind Cal's time of 7:16.10. Coxed by sophomore Paige Fernandes, the foursome was stroked by freshman Kamali Houston with freshman Darian DiCianno in the bow seat. Junior Kajsa Olsson and Eglit Vosu rowed from seats three and two, respectively. The Trojans came in 2.20 seconds ahead of the Stanford four for a solid second-place finish.
In USC's second varsity eight, sophomore coxswain Kellyn Freire had her crew battling the entire 2000 meters and turned in a time of 6:33.20. In the day's closest race, sophomore starboard Elizabeth Turner and the Trojan bow ball crossed the line just 1.90 seconds after the California 2V8 (6:31.30). It was clear both boats had the Cardinal beat as Stanford completed the course at 6:46.40. USC freshman Deirdre Fitzpatrick sat in the stroke seat followed by junior Rebecca Shaffer, senior Marlena Adamska, junior Jelena Miladinovic, freshman Lindsay Gibson, senior Vanessa Tyson, and junior Madelyn Walters.
Following two second-place finishes, the top Trojan boat was determined to come out on top in the day's main event. Coxed by senior Jennah Blau with junior All-American Vineta Moca at stroke, USC's varsity eight stole the show with its performance in the second half of its race. Stanford and Cal had strong starts to the race and held the Trojans in third place through the first 500 meters, but USC made its move heading across the halfway mark.
The Women of Troy held their water the rest of the way to remain undefeated in 2013 and came in with a time of 6:20.40 as senior bow Melanie Grindle crossed the finish line. Cal was 3.6 seconds back at 6:24.00 with Stanford off by 1.9 seconds at 6:25.90. Sophomore Krisztina Gyimes rowed in the seventh seat followed by senior Ivana Filipovic, freshman Keret Einaste, freshman Madara Strautmane, and seniors Jelena Zelenovic and Iskra Angelova.
"This was a good experience," said Babraj. "It's something that gives us good information on what we need to work on and what we need to do. This was a very important race for the first eight and they gave a great performance. Everybody was prepared for them but they were ready and came out on top. That was great for the entire team."
The Bears came in second in the final tally for the team standings with Stanford and No. 12 Notre Dame tied for third. No. 19 Washington State finished fifth followed by 15th-ranked Wisconsin in sixth. Tulsa, Kansas, and site-host Sacramento State rounded out the nine-team standings for the weekend.
Coming off a second-place finish in its preliminary heat, USC's novice eight raced in the morning's grand final and came in fourth place with a time of 7:02.90. Cal's A novice crew won the race with a time of 6:43.90 followed by Wisconsin (6:46.40) and Washington State (6:55.00). The novice Trojans were coxed by Christina Yang with Michelle Popelka at the stroke. Sara Bilimoria followed with Bryn Olason, Katherine Plaxe, and Nikki Kloss in the boiler room. Tatjana Perrin rowed out of the third seat followed by Emily Jordan and Shelby Penfield in the bow seat.
The Trojans do not race, next weekend, and will be back in action on Saturday, May 4, in their annual dual against crosstown rival UCLA, on the waters of Ballona Creek in Marina Del Rey, Calif. Please visit www.USCTrojans.com for more information.
For complete race results from the Lake Natoma Invitational, follow the official Twitter feed @NatomaInvite. All times are also posted at www.row2k.com and on CalBears.com.
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