USC Varsity Eight Claims Pac-12 Women's Rowing Title
May 19, 2013
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GOLD RIVER, Calif. - The USC women's rowing varsity eight cleared the finish line at Lake Natoma with a comfortable four-second margin to seize the crown at the 2013 Pac-12 Rowing Championships on Sunday, May 19. It is the V8's second title in program history and the Trojans' fourth overall individual conference title. USC won V8 gold medals in 2007 while its V4 has taken gold twice (1998 and 2005).
As a team, the top-ranked Women of Troy earned second place at the annual conference regatta with 37.5 points. California won its sixth straight league title by a narrow 1.5-point margin (39.0) over the Trojans. Washington finished third with 36.5 points. UCLA (28.0), Stanford (18.0), Washington State (16.5), and Oregon State (6.5) rounded out the final team standings in one of the tightest finishes in championship history.
By virtue of USC's 36-all tie with California for points in varsity races, and the Trojans' varsity eight victory as a tiebreaker, the Women of Troy received the Pac-12's automatic qualifier bid into the 2013 NCAA Championships. The championships will take place at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind., Friday-Sunday, May 31-June 2.
It is the seventh time in school history that the Trojans will compete at the NCAA Championships as a team and the fifth consecutive time since 2009. USC also went to the championships as a team in 2005 and 2007 and enjoyed program-best fifth-place finishes in 2007 and 2011.
"I'm very pleased with our performance, today," said head coach Zenon Babraj. "Congratulations to Cal. Cal has a very deep program; a lot of depth in their program. I think our first eight and the second eight each did a great job on the water. The varsity four has a little bit of work to do, and we'll have to look into the lineups. There were some technical problems out there, but overall, I think we're on the right track, and we should only get faster in the next two weeks."
USC's second varsity eight took second place in its race to claim the boat's top all-time finish at the conference championships. The 2V8 had previously finished third, three other times (2000, 2007, and 2011). The varsity four and novice eight each finished fifth in their respective races. USC's novice eight enjoyed its best finish since the 1998 novice crew finished fifth in the grand final.
With a heavy wind coming from the starboard side, race officials changed lane assignments just two minutes before the varsity eight race. Racing out of lane seven, the Trojans started the race strong and had only Washington ahead of them at the 500-meter mark. By the halfway point in the race, USC had pulled even with the Huskies with Cal and UCLA just a step behind. Three quarters of the way through, the Trojans began to separate themselves from the field and grabbed a couple of seats over Washington. Down the stretch, USC maintained its pace to pull in front for an open-water finish over the Huskies (6:37.80 to 6:42.10). Cal came in third with UCLA in fourth.
"We knew the wind conditions would be difficult, but we didn't think they would be this difficult," said senior coxswain Jennah Blau. "About two minutes before our race, we changed lanes, so that was something else that we had to deal with. We came off the line a little faster than normal, which is good for us. Pretty much from the 250-meter line, it seemed like it was just us and Washington. In the last 500 meters, we just took our sprint, and we just went for it and ended up getting a little bit of open water, which is more than we could have asked for."
The Trojan varsity eight remained undefeated on the season to capture the second V8+ conference title in school history. When USC won gold in 2007, current assistant coach Ligita Kaviererowed from the sixth seat.
"Winning [the championship] is definitely a lot of responsibility and comes with big expectations," said junior All-American stroke Vineta Moca. "I was pretty amazed once we got out of the boat that everyone was already talking about how much harder we have to work to prepare for the national championships. We're not going to stop here. We have to work harder, every day."
In its race, the USC second varsity eight came off the line and battled for the lead against UCLA and Cal through the first 500 meters. The Trojans fell behind the Bruin and Bear crews at the halfway mark, but were just a few seats back. With 500 meters to go, USC held a firm grip on second place and had put UCLA and Washington behind with just Cal to catch. The Bears proved to be too fast down the stretch as they claimed a 3.5-second win (6:47.70 to 6:51.20). Washington grabbed third place with a time of 6:53.20 followed by UCLA and Stanford.
In the varsity four event, USC started strong and raced the Cal V4+ evenly through the first 500 meters, but UCLA, Washington, and Washington State each had something extra in the next quarter to pull into a three-way race for second place with the Trojans in fifth. The Bears began to pull away with 500 meters remaining and the field began to splinter. Cal finished first with a time of 7:23.80 to win the varsity four title with UCLA and Washington in second and third respectively. The Trojans' final push in the last 50 meters created a photo finish with Washington State for fourth and fifth place, but the official finish had the Cougars ahead by just a tenth of a second (7:34.50 to 7:34.60).
USC's novice eight opened the day as the first race of the morning and found itself in as tight a race as any through 500 meters. Washington's novice crew began to pull away from the field at the hallway point, but the Trojans continued to give fight. With 500 meters to go, the Trojans were neck and neck with Stanford and UCLA with Oregon State back just a couple of seats. USC's final push helped it finish in fifth place (7:13.00) and just one second short of UCLA's fourth-place time (7:12.00) to earn the Trojans' first points of the day.
The Trojans will now turn their attention to preparing for the NCAA Championships set to take place at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind., Friday-Sunday, May 31-June 2. Please visit www.NCAA.com for more information on the championships, schedules, and ticket information.
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