GOLD RIVER, Calif. -
The UC San Diego men's crew team began the first day of competition at the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association (WIRA) Championships regarded by many as the overall favorite to win the conference crown. Despite difficult conditions on Lake Natoma on Saturday, the Tritons lived up to the high expectations.
Head coach Zach Johnson entered a varsity eight, two junior varsity eight, one novice eight and a varsity four for a total of five boats this weekend. All five advanced to the grand finals on Sunday, with four boats finishing in first place in their heats.
With forceful winds as high as 20 mph, the varsity eight went out on a mission and took first with a time of 6:22.9. The Tritons managed to finish ahead of Sacramento State, UC Davis, Santa Clara and Lewis & Clark College.
"The windy conditions made it interesting, but we came well-prepared," said Johnson. "We have built momentum that we have been able to sustain as a program and it has shown with some fast times."
The two Triton junior varsity boats had solid performances, as well. The UCSD ‘A' boat recorded a time of 6:19.7, which was good for first place. The lone boat that did not finish in first was the UCSD ‘B' boat, which raced in a separate junior varsity eight heat. That group took second behind Gonzaga with a time of 6:27.2.
UC San Diego took first in the novice eight race, crossing the finish line with a time of 6:33.2 and toppling Washington State, Arizona State, Long Beach State and San Diego State. The varsity four also finished with the top time and will be back in action in tomorrow's grand final.
"Our program did as we expected," Johnson concluded. "We came out in the rough, windy conditions and put our cards on the table, performing just as we had expected. We look forward to doing the same in the grand finals tomorrow."
The 2011 WIRA Championships will conclude Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. For a complete racing schedule, visit www.gowira.org.