CAMDEN, N.J. - The UC San Diego men's crew team wrapped up one of the finest seasons in program history on Saturday, with three boats competing on the final day of the 2011 Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Championships. The varsity eight boat finished in 18th place, the junior varsity eight took 15th and the novice eight came in 12th.
After failing to qualify for the grand or petite finals, the varsity eight raced in the third-level final on Saturday, competing for 13th through 18th place. UCSD posted a time of 6:05.114 on Cooper Lake, crossing the line a mere two seconds behind Gonzaga for 18th place overall.
"I thought we executed better and raced pretty well today," head coach Zach Johnson said. "Our hopes were to finish a bit better, but the improvement we've had over the last month was great."
The third-final winner was Boston University, which posted a time of 5:43.406 that would have put them in the thick of the varsity eight petite final. The University of Washington took the national title, with Harvard edging out Cal by one-tenth of a second for second-place.
UCSD's junior varsity eight was also placed in the third-final after finishing in fourth place in both of its heats on Thursday. In a field of 15 boats overall, six raced in the grand final and seven competed in the petite final, which left the Tritons to duke it out with Gonzaga. The race was extremely tight and came down to the very end, but the Bulldogs pulled out the victory, edging the Tritons by less than a second. UCSD posted a final time of 6:01.537 to finish 15th overall.
"That might not have been exactly what we wanted to do out there, but it was definitely a great first step," Johnson continued.
Washington also took the crown in the junior varsity eight, with Harvard again coming in a very close second.
UCSD's novice eight boat, which had already claimed at least 12th place entering the final day, went on to post the highest finish of the three Triton crews. Competing in the petite final, the Tritons came out with a head of steam and took hold of third place through the first 1,000 meters. In the second half, the pace picked up and UCSD would fail to hang on to its postition, ultimately finishing sixth overall with a time of 6:01.466.
"We were excited going in and the guys were able to get out ahead, but just couldn't hold on," added Johnson.
Navy won the petite final to finish sixth overall, while Cal was the top boat in the grand final. Washington finished second, followed by Harvard in third. The Tritons were 12th out of the 17 total novice crews.
Despite Saturday's results, the day capped off a tremedous season for UCSD, which registered a number of program firsts in 2011.
"We had a young team that was strong from top to bottom," Johnson said. "We learned a lot and although today is disappointing, we are proud of what we accomplished. Next year will be promising with almost everyone returning to the top two boats. Our goal will be to make it back here and do better, which I think is achievable."
The Tritons will lose just three seniors from this year's squad with Justin Gordon, Justin Hsu and Shawn Kuo set to graduate later this month.
Final Results - Saturday, June 4
Men's Varsity Eight Grand Final
1. Washington - 5:30.623
2. Harvard - 5:33.302
3. California - 5:33.406
4. Wisconsin - 5:34.038
5. Brown - 5:36.899
6. Princeton - 5:38.500
Men's Varsity Eight Petite Final
1. Cornell - 5:41.526
2. Stanford - 5:42.892
3. Syracuse - 5:43.120
4. Yale - 5:43.269
5. Navy - 5:49.024
6. Georgetown - 5:53.262
Men's Varsity Eight Third-Level Final
1. Boston University - 5:43.406
2. Dartmouth - 5:46.021
3. Columbia - 5:46.739
4. Pennsylvania - 5:52.877
5. Gonzaga - 6:03.112
6. UCSD - 6:05.114
Men's Varsity Eight Final Standings
13. Boston University
Men's Junior Varsity Eight Grand Final
1. Washington - 5:36.969
2. Harvard - 5:38.526
3. Wisconsin - 5:46.485
4. Princeton - 5:50.093
5. Cornell - 5:50.789
6. California - 5:50.791
Men's Junior Varsity Eight Petite Final
1. Yale - 5:46.992
2. Brown - 5:49.190
3. Syracuse - 5:51.263
4. Boston University - 5:52.866
5. Pennsylvania - 5:53.261
6. Navy - 5:53.782
7. Dartmouth - 6:02.877
Men's Junior Varsity Third-Level Final
1. Gonzaga - 6:01.537
2. UCSD - 6:01.969
Men's Junior Varsity Final Standings
10. Boston University
Men's Novice Eight Grand Final
1. California - 5:36.133
2. Washington - 5:38.355
3. Harvard - 5:39.810
4. Princeton - 5:41.713
5. Boston University - 5:42.006
6. Brown - 5:45.374
Men's Novice Eight Petite Final
1. Navy - 5:46.897
2. Cornell - 5:51.429
3. Stanford - 5:52.321
4. Columbia - 5:55.709
5. Dartmouth - 5:55.978
6. UCSD - 6:01.466
Men's Novice Eight Third-Level Final
1. Yale - 5:53.628
2. Wisconsin - 5:54.333
3. Syracuse - 5:54.648
4. Pennsylvania - 6:02.392
5. Gonzaga - 6:07.603
Men's Novice Eight Final Standings
5. Boston University