INDIANAPOLIS - With a spot in the grand final on the line, the UC San Diego Varsity 8 crew came up with a huge win in a repechage race Saturday morning at the NCAA Division II Women's Rowing Championships at Eagle Creek Park.
UCSD, tied for sixth in the national rankings, was in the water with second-ranked Western Washington, No. 4 Central Oklahoma and Mercyhurst, also ranked sixth. The Tritons powered out a gutsy victory, recording a winning time of 7:42.96 on the 2,000-meter course, less than a second in front of WWU, which finished in 7:43.95. UCO was a close third in 7:45.38 and Mercyhurst was a distant fourth, clocking an 8:05.62.
The Tritons, along with Western Washington, advance to Sunday's grand final against No. 1 Barry and No. 3 Nova Southeastern. Central Oklahoma and Mercyhurst will compete in the petit final.
"Today was an absolutely fantastic race, easily our best of the year," said UCSD head coach Colin Truex. "We were all at the same speed for 1,800 meters and it really came down to who was willing to go to the bottom of the well at the end. I couldn't be more proud of the way they raced today. It was gutsy, it was ferocious and it was full of heart. They willed themselves to that win and they deserve to be in the grand final tomorrow."
The Tritons' Varsity 8 crew consists of coxswain Catherine Sheffler, Shruti Kamath, Alyssa Dixon-Word, Kelsey Henck, Michelle Robbins, Ashley Travaglione, Rachel Schneiderman, Kelly Peterson and Claire Duesdieker.
UCSD stepped up its game Saturday after placing behind Central Oklahoma in Friday's heats. In the three-boat race, UCO was second in 7:34.99, while the Tritons finished third in 7:37.03. Barry handily won the heat with a time of 7:26.93.
Also on Saturday, Barry easily won the Varsity 4 repechage, recording a 9:04.82 to top Mercyhurst's 9:27.47. The Buccaneers will take on Nova Southeastern and Western Washington in the grand final Sunday.
Conditions at Eagle Creek Park were much windier Saturday, but lacking the rain that fell during Friday's races.
UC San Diego is making its fifth overall appearance at the NCAA Championships and first since 2008. The Tritons qualified a Varsity 8 in 2005 and were eligible for the team championship by qualifying a Varsity 8 and a JV 8 in 2006, 2007 and 2008. They finished as the national runner-up to Western Washington in 2007 and 2008.
Sunday's Varsity 8 grand final gets underway at 6:10 a.m. (PT). The race can be followed by live video.
"I am excited and the student-athletes are excited - we are going for it all tomorrow," said Truex. "Our last race, as it will be every year, is for the seniors. We want to send Michelle (Robbins), Alyssa (Dixon-Word), and Ashley (Travaglione) out with a great race!"
2013 NCAA Division II Women's Rowing Championships
May 31-June 2
Eagle Creek Park
Saturday, June 1
Varsity 8 Repechage: UCSD 7:42.96, Western Washington 7:43.95, Central Oklahoma 7:45.38, Mercyhurst 8:05.62
Sunday, June 2
Varsity 8 Grand Final: 6:10 a.m.
-- UCSDtritons.com --