INDIANAPOLIS - The UC San Diego women's rowing team opened the 2013 NCAA Division II Championships Friday morning with a third place finish in its Varsity 8 heat in rainy conditions at Eagle Creek Park.
UCSD, tied for sixth in the national rankings, finished the 2,000-meter race with a time of 7:37.03. The Tritons were edged by fourth-ranked Central Oklahoma, which took second in 7:34.99. Top-ranked Barry crossed the line first with a winning time of 7:25.93.
"I wanted us to put together a strong race and be competitive with the field, and I thought we had a very good race today," said first-year UCSD head coach Colin Truex. "Barry once again showed that they are the top team, but we fought hard with Central Oklahoma."
The Tritons' crew consisted of coxswain Catherine Sheffler, Shruti Kamath, Alyssa Dixon-Word, Kelsey Henck, Michelle Robbins, Ashley Travaglione, Rachel Schneiderman, Kelly Peterson and Claire Duesdieker.
In the second heat of the morning, No. 3 Nova Southeastern cruised to the win, posting a time of 7:27.76, almost 10 seconds faster than second-ranked Western Washington, which finished second in 7:37.26. Mercyhurst, tied with UCSD for sixth in the country, was third in 7:59.81.
The victories propelled Barry and Nova Southeastern directly to Sunday's grand final. UCSD, Central Oklahoma, Mercyhurst and Western Washington will row in a repechage on Saturday at 7:05 a.m. (PT), with the top two finishers going to the grand final and the bottom two moving on to the petit final.
"We got off the line well and raced hard the whole way through, but we definitely have another gear for tomorrow," said Truex. "We got the jitters out today and realized that we belong here. The conditions will be a factor tomorrow, but we are ready and look forward to fighting for a spot in the grand final."
In Friday's Varsity 4 heats, Nova Southeastern (8:22.38) bested Barry (8:30.62) and Western Washington (8:25.33) had no problems coming in well ahead of Mercyhurst (8:55.06).
UC San Diego is making its fifth overall appearance at the NCAA Championships and first since 2008. The Tritons qualified a Varsity 8 in 2005 and were eligible for the team championship by qualifying a Varsity 8 and a JV 8 in 2006, 2007 and 2008. UCSD finished as the national runner-up to Western Washington in 2007 and 2008.
The 2013 NCAA Women's Rowing Championships can be followed by live video.
2013 NCAA Division II Women's Rowing Championships
May 31-June 2
Eagle Creek Park
Friday, May 31
Varsity 8 Heat One: Barry 7:25.93, Central Oklahoma 7:34.99, UCSD 7:37.03
Varsity 8 heat Two: Nova Southeastern 7:27.76, Western Washington 7:37.26, Mercyhurst 7:59.81
Saturday, June 1 - 7:05 a.m. (PT)
Varsity 8 Repechage: Central Oklahoma, Mercyhurst, UCSD, Western Washington
Sunday, June 2
Varsity 8 Petit Final: 6:40 a.m.
Varsity 8 Grand Final: 6:50 a.m.
-- UCSDtritons.com --