Women's Rowing
    No. 4 USC Set To Take On Crosstown Rival Bruins
    Co-Captain Anna Wierzbowska has helped guide the Trojans to their impressive start.
    Co-Captain Anna Wierzbowska has helped guide the Trojans to their impressive start.

    April 27, 2011

    The No. 4 USC rowing team looks to continue their winning ways as they face their crosstown rival UCLA this Saturday (April 30) in Marina Del Rey. After starting the season with two title wins at the San Diego Crew Classic and wins over then No. 2 Virginia, No. 8 Michigan State and No. 12 Clemson the Trojans square off with the No. 18 Bruins in a series that has seen the Women of Troy go undefeated (9-0) since its inception in 2002.

    Action begins at 8:15 a.m. with the Varsity Fours in the first race of the day. The Second Varsity Eight follows at 8:30 a.m., the Varsity Eight at 8:45 a.m., the Novice Eight at 9:00 a.m., finishing with the Second Varsity Four at 9:15 a.m.

    Three points will be awarded to the Varsity Eight winner, two to the Second Varsity Eight winner and one point apiece to the winners of the Varsity Four and the Novice Eight races for a total of seven possible points.

    In addition to trying to remain unbeaten in the all-time series the Trojans will look to pad their point total in the already decided Crosstown Gauntlet. It's an unprecedented fourth consecutive win for USC in the head-to-head all-sports competition with rival UCLA. USC now has 62.5 points in the year-long competition to UCLA's 27.5, with only the outcome of 5 events this weekend (women's water polo, men's golf, women's rowing and men's and women's track) remaining in the point total. Five points will be up for grabs this Saturday.

    V8: Cox: Dionne Licudine, 8. Ivana Filipovic, 7. Maria Wilgotsson, 6. Lenka Vrecnikova, 5. Magda Janicka, 4. Anna Wierzbowska, 3. Jelena Zelenovic, 2. Iskra Angelova, 1. Helen Tinkus

    2ndV8: Cox: Tanya Ouyang, 8. Vineta Moca, 7. Ewa Tymoszewska, 6. Kajsa Olsson, 5. Jelena Miladinovic, 4. Marlena Adamska , 3. Anna Janicka, 2. Kinga Mikolajczyk, 1. Liene Stuberovska

    V4: Cox : Caroline Trawick 4. Gaby Zarate, 3. Caroline Sederowsky, 2. Kate McFetridge, 1. Melanie Grindle

    2nd V4: Cox: Jennah Blau, 4. Rachel Moll, 3. Rebecca Shaffer, 2. Hannah Bowen, 1. Laura Pomatto

    Novice 8: Cox: Jacqueline Younesi, 8. Kerstin Fuller, 7. Kristi Gadalla, 6. Erica Christianson, 5. Alex Nguyen, 4. Brittany Ballew, 3. Jennifer Whitty, 2. Heather Riley, 1. Cylina Villarreal

    8:15am Varsity 4+
    8:30am 2nd Varsity 8+
    8:45am Varsity 8+
    9:00am Novice 8+
    9:15am 2nd Varsity 4+

    Directions to the UCLA boathouse from the USC campus:
    - Take the 10 West (Santa Monica Freeway)
    - Take the 405 South (San Diego Freeway)
    - Take the 90 West (Marina Del Rey Freeway)
    - Follow the 90 all the way to its end where it turns into a surface street
    - Make a LEFT on "Mindanao"
    - Make a LEFT on "Lincoln Blvd."
    - Make a RIGHT on "Fiji Way."


    The Trojans traveled to Lake Monticello, Virginia April 15-17 to face some of the nation's top teams in three dual meets over three days. USC swept No. 12 Clemson in all three races to open the weekend. The Varsity Fours won by 1.5 seconds with a mark of 8:42:0 followed by the Second Varsity Eight who finished with a time of 7:32:0, 10.1 seconds ahead of the Tigers. USC's Varsity Eight dominated finishing almost 12 seconds ahead of Clemson. USC then won two of three events against No. 8 Michigan State as the Varsity Fours finished in 7:45:0 more for more than a 12 second win. The Varsity Eight impressed for the second day in a row with defeating the Spartans by almost 15 seconds. The Women of Troy returned to the water to face No. 2 Virginia the next morning as the Varsity Four scored nearly a nine second win (7:11:2) over Virginia. USC's Varsity Eight capped the winning weekend finishing almost nine seconds ahead (6:18:3) of the Cavaliers.

    The Trojans kicked off their season in winning fashion as the Varsity Eight and Varsity Four boats both won titles at the prestigious San Diego Crew Classic in Mission Bay, Calif. USC's Varsity Eight won the third Jessop-Whittier Cup in school history by taking first in the Women's Collegiate Varsity Invitational Grand Final. The Trojans with a winning time of 6.32.90 finished a boat length ahead of #4 Stanford followed by #3 Cal, #15 Wisconsin, #8 Washington and #13 Washington State. The Trojans also won the inaugural Karen Plumleigh Cortney Cup by taking first place in the Collegiate 4+ Grand Final. With a time of 7:30.90 USC finished three seconds ahead of UCLA followed by Oklahoma, Stanford, Oregon State and Iowa. Also in action, USC's Second Varsity Eight managed a third place finish in the Collegiate 2V Grand Final that featured tough competition from Washington, Stanford, Wisconsin, Washington State and UCLA. The 2nd Varsity Four won the petite final of the collegiate fours race, comfortably ahead of Tulsa, USD, Alabama, Tulsa B and Bates.


    If rowing teams kept head-to-head win-loss records, USC's first varsity eight would be 10-0 so far this year. It finished first out of eight crews at the San Diego Crew Classic (7-0), and defeated Virginia, Michigan State and Clemson (3-0).

    USC, under ninth-year head coach Zenon Babraj, has faced some of the top competition in the country this season, including No. 2 Stanford, No. 3 Cal, No. 5 Virginia, No. 7 Washington, No. 8 Michigan State, No. 11 Clemson, No. 12 Washington State and No. 13 Wisconsin. USC's Varsity Eight has defeated each of them.

    The Women of Troy's first varsity eight is ranked first in Row2k.com's cMax Rankings as of April 27. These computer ratings use race results from around the country to project how teams would do if pitted against one another.

    USC (9-0) has not lost to crosstown rival UCLA since the teams began dual race competition, with Crosstown Gauntlet points on the line, in 2002. The schools pit first varsity eights (3 points), second varsity eights (2 points), varsity fours (1 point) and novice eights (1 point) against each other. The winner of the dual race and the Gauntlet points is the team that earns 4 or more out of the 7 available points.

    USC junior Kate McFetridge earned Pac-10 Rowing All-Academic first team honors while junior Laura Pomatto and sophomores Lauren Smolenski and Lenka Vrecnikova earned second team honors, the conference announced Monday. McFetridge earned first team honors with a 3.78 GPA in health promotion and pre-med studies. Pomatto's second team honors came with a 3.54 GPA in biochemical engineering and human development and aging while Smolenski had a 3.46 in architecture. Additionally, junior Kinga Mikolajczyk and sophomores Anna Janicka, Magda Janicka and Maria Wilgotsson earned honorable mention honors.

    USC brought home two first place finishes at this year's San Diego Crew Classic, including one in the Jessop-Whittier Cup, the premier collegiate women's event at the regatta. Since USC began regularly attending this season-opening race in 1995, it has qualified for the grand finals of the Jessop-Whittier Cup 11 times and has won the trophy three times, in 2001, 2007 and 2011.

    Zenon Babraj is USC's ninth-year director of rowing and head coach. He has been instrumental in establishing the Women of Troy as a premier program on the national level. Under Babraj, USC finished fifth as a team at the 2007 NCAA Championships and eighth in 2010. A native of Warsaw, Poland, Babraj was named the 2007 Pac-10 Women's Rowing Coach of the Year.

    Marketa DeQuine and Ligita Kaviere, Liene Bertasjus a trio of accomplished former Trojan rowers, currently serve as Babraj's assistant coaches. Kaviere, in her second season as an assistant coach, was a two-time All-American in 2006 and 2007, and led USC to its first Pac-10 Championship in 2007. DeQuine, now in her third year on the staff, was a four-year letter winner at Troy, where she held down the No. 4 seat in the first varsity eight from 1999-2003. Bertasjus, a three-time Pocock All-American and a 2010 co-captain, was also a CRCA West Region and All-Pac-10 first team selection. Bertasjus, who holds most of the Trojans' records on the ergometer, was instrumental in USC's Varsity Eight's recent success.

    USC has raced at the Pac-10 Championships 13 times since women's rowing returned as a scholarship sport in 1996. USC won gold in the varsity four in 2005 and in the first varsity eight in 2007. In 2007, USC also won its first team Pac-10 championship and received an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship regatta. USC has placed all three of its varsity boats in the Pac-10 grand finals six times, in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

    USC has sent one or more boats to the NCAA Championships for 13 consecutive years, dating back to 1998. However, an NCAA rule change that took effect in 2009 means that for USC to compete in future championships, it must qualify as a team (first varsity eight, second varsity eight and varsity four) and not as individual boats. USC has qualified and competed as a team four times, in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010 with its best finish (fifth) coming in 2007.

    The women's rowing team is USC's most international team, as the varsity roster includes athletes from nine nations. The countries represented include Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, England, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Serbia, Sweden and the United States.

    The Women of Troy train out of USC Boathouse at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, Calif. Located a short, 20-minute drive from the USC campus, the Port of Los Angeles offers 12 miles of calm water, free from most boat traffic. Best of all, the warm Los Angeles climate means the Women of Troy can train on the water 12 months a year.