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LA JOLLA, Calif. - The Tritons will head north to Gold River, Calif. this weekend to compete in the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association (WIRA) Championships. Both the UC San Diego's men's and women's sides will face the top crews in the western region for the opportunity to impress selectors for their respective national championship competitions.

On the women's side, the top two NCAA Division II teams at the WIRA Championships will get the regional bids for the NCAA Division II National Championships in Princeton, N.J. on May 24-27, along with two at-large bids. For the men, the top two finishers will automatically qualify for the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) National Championships, held in Camden, N.J. on May 31-June 2.

No. 7 UCSD women's head coach Pattie Pinkerton is excited for the team's prospect of impressing NCAA D-II selectors this weekend in Gold River.

"We have a very good chance," said Pinkerton. "So far we've been a good ten to twelve seconds off the top teams, and we need to close that gap. But we've been improving and everything is in place for a great performance."

The UCSD women will race boats in seven categories at the WIRA Championships: varsity eight and varsity four, which are key boats for NCAA selection, lightweight four, second varsity eight, novice eight, novice four and a pair boat.

The seventh-ranked Triton women will face the top two D-II crews in the country this weekend in No. 1 Humboldt State and perennial powerhouse No. 2 Western Washington. Coach Pinkerton also cites No. 8 Seattle Pacific as a possible spoiler, capable of pulling off an upset.

"We definitely have to beat one of those programs to have a chance at advancing to the national championships," Pinkerton said.

On the men's side, head coach Zach Johnson is confident in his squad's prospect of qualifying for the IRA National Championships.

"We're going in with a hot boat," Johnson said. "I think we have a really good shot at advancing."

Johnson tabs Gonzaga and University of San Diego as the Tritons' biggest competition at the WIRA Championships, but feels certain in the ability of his boats' new, shuffled lineups.

"We've completely re-vamped our lineup in the last few weeks," said Johnson. "The freshman eight are set up to do extremely well, and we've rebuilt our varsity boat using our previous JV eight."

The WIRA Championships will span Apr. 28-29 in Gold River, Calif.

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