Head coach Pattie Pinkerton will enter six boats as the varsity eight, varsity four, novice eight, novice four, lightweight eight and lightweight four all look to medal at the conference regatta. Aiming for its first trip to the NCAA Championships since 2008, the Tritons will face off with squads from several of the top programs at the Division II level, including Seattle Pacific and Humboldt State. Defending NCAA runner-up and five-time champion, Western Washington, is thought by many to be the heavy favorite entering this weekend's competition.
"It is a strong field, but we feel like our team has really responded well to the speed work and has shown big improvements in our most recent races against Loyola Marymount and UC Irvine," said Pinkerton. "The team is confident and moving fast, so I like where we're at."
The Tritons last competed on April 16, when they swept UC Irvine, demonstrating the team's recent strides. UCSD posted victories in the varsity eight, novice eight, varsity four, lightweight four and novice four in local waters at Mission Bay.
Pinkerton likes UCSD's chances across the board and has high hopes for the varsity four unit of Julie Montes, Chantal Creighton, Tanya Vander Vis, Daisy Orta and coxswain Thuy-Uyen Hunh.
"Going into this regatta we feel like we have strong entries and a number of medal prospects, so I think we can really surprise the field," Pinkerton continued. "The varsity four is going in with a couple of wins under its belt and it could be one of our strongest crews in several years."
At the WIRA Championships last season, UCSD had three boats running, with the varsity eight placing third in the petite final for the 12th overall position, the second varsity eight finishing third in its race and the second novice eight securing sixth place.
The Tritons will be looking to qualify for the NCAA D-II Rowing Championships May 27-29, also in Gold River, when they hit the water this weekend.
For a complete WIRA Championship schedule, visit www.gowira.org.