RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. - A big weekend of racing is on tap for the UC San Diego women's rowing program as it will look to secure a trip to the NCAA Championships at the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association (WIRA) Championships Saturday and Sunday on Lake Natoma.
UCSD will have four boats entered, including Varsity 8, Varsity 4, 2nd Varsity 8 and Novice 8. The Tritons, ranked fifth nationally, will be going up against their top competition from the West, including No. 2 Western Washington and No. 4 Humboldt State.
The Varsity 8 crew will race in Heat 2 on Saturday at 10:20 a.m. Also in the heat will be Humboldt State, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis and Pacific Lutheran. Heat One includes Western Washington, Puget Sound, Orange Coast College, Lewis & Clark and Mills.
The top three crews from each heat advance to the Grand Final, which will take place at 11:50 a.m. Sunday.
"Asserting ourselves in the Division II West Region is paramount for our Varsity 8 this weekend," said UCSD head coach Colin Truex. "The crew has struggled to find consistency, but it has been more an issue of chemistry rather than ability. They have been incredibly focused and have really increased their boat speed in practice over the last two weeks. If they can put it all together this weekend, they will put themselves right back into contention for an NCAA bid."
UCSD's Varsity 4 crew has been impressive this season, compiling a 5-1 record against Division II competition, its lone loss coming to Western Washington.
"Like the Varsity 8, this is a huge weekend for us in terms of the West Region," said Truex. "They have been our most consistent boat and I have no doubt that they are going to up their game even more with a championship on the line."
Saturday, the Varsity 4 will race in Heat Two at 8:10 a.m. against Humboldt State, Seattle Pacific, Puget Sound, Oregon and Willamette. Heat One consists of Western Washington, Long Beach State, Orange Coast College, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, Arizona State and Pacific Lutheran.
Again, the top three finishers from each of the two heats move on to the Grand Final, slated for 8 a.m. on Sunday.
The 2nd Varsity 8 event will be a seven-boat Grand Final, scheduled for a 10:30 a.m. start Sunday. Alongside the Tritons will be Puget Sound, Lewis & Clark, UC Santa Barbara, Humboldt State, UC Davis and Mills.
"The JV 8 has had some ups and downs this season, but seems to be hitting their stride right now," said Truex. "I sense that they are coming together at the right time and they have a very good chance to podium. They just have to step up and row to their maximum potential."
UCSD's Novice 8 boat will be in Heat One at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. The Tritons will be going up against Gonzaga, Portland, Oregon and UC Davis. Seattle, Sacramento State, UC Santa Barbara, Orange Coast College and Sonoma State are in Heat Two.
"The Novice 8 has had an exceptional season, winning three out of the four races they have entered so far," said Truex. "This weekend, they will be facing some tough Division I competition, but have a very good chance of advancing to the Grand Final and even getting on the podium."
The WIRA Championships will be the final competition of the season for UCSD's 2nd Varsity 8 and Novice 8 crews.
At the 2013 WIRA Championships, the Tritons had three boats in Grand Final races. The Varsity 8 placed second, just .8 behind Western Washington. The Varsity 4 and the 2nd Varsity 8 both finished third.
Following this weekend's races, UCSD will travel to the East Coast to compete in the Dad Vail Regatta, held May 9-10 on the Schuylkill River outside of Philadelphia.
The NCAA Championships will take place in Indianapolis May 30-June 1.