GOLD RIVER, Calif. -
The UC San Diego men's crew team put together a complete effort on the final day of the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association (WIRA) Championships on Sunday and came away with the conference title to show for it. Two of out of UCSD's four boats racing in grand finals recorded first place finishes on Lake Natoma to pave the way.
The Tritons claimed first place in the both the varsity eight and junior varsity eight finals. The novice eight took third while the second junior varsity boat finished fourth in their race.
"Our varsity eight really brought it from start to finish," head coach Zach Johnson said. "We held our ground and competed the way we were expected to. The junior varsity did a great job with their come from behind victory, as well."
UCSD's varsity eight boat beat out Gonzaga and UCLA by a boat's length for the win. The junior varsity ‘A' boat was in third halfway through the race and was able to cross the finish line in front of the rest field, which included second-place Orange Coast College and third-place Gonzaga.
After a bad start, the Tritons' novice eight was able to get into a tight pack with OCC and Gonzaga. It was a neck-and-neck race that came right down to the wire, with the Pirates taking the crown. The Bulldogs would finish second followed by the Tritons in third.
"Our first half was not executed the way we had planned, but we were able to overcome it and get into contention," Johnson continued.
Johnson was named WIRA Coach of the Year for the third year in a row following a strong final day of competition from his charges. With the conference title under their belts, the Tritons will advance to the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Championships June 2-4 in Camden, N.J.
It will be just the second time in program history that UCSD has advanced to the national championships.
"All in all, this weekend was extremely successful," Johnson concluded. "Up and down the board, our crews battled and performed as we had hoped."