USC Women's Rowing Set To Compete At NCAA Championships

May 25, 2005

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THIS WEEK -- The USC women's rowing team is sending three boats to the 2005 NCAA Championships for the first time as a team. The Trojans will send their 10th-ranked Varsity Eight boat as well as the Pac-10 Champion Varsity Four and the JV Eight. The championships take place May 27-29 on Lake Natoma in Rancho Cordova, Calif. The Trojans previously have made seven consecutive NCAA appearances in individual races and even captured a Varsity Four title in their 1998 NCAA debut. USC's Varsity Eight boat placed 12th at last year's NCAA championship. USC has been ranked as high as No. 10 by the USRowing/Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association Coaches Poll this season. Live scoring and more information on the event is available on the internet at

The championships consists of three events - Varsity Eight, JV Eight and Fours - and each covering a 2,000-meter course. The team championship is comprised of 12 teams--besides USC, they are defending NCAA champion Brown, California (the top seed in the West), Harvard, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Princeton, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Yale--and each team is required to field two boats of eight rowers each and one boat of four rowers. In addition, four eight-women boats from institutions not represented in the team competition (Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee and UCLA) were selected.

USC RANKINGS -- The Varsity Eight boat enters the championships as the second-ranked boat in the West Region, according to the NCAA Women's Rowing Committee.

USC AT LAKE NATOMA -- This will be USC's third visit to Lake Natoma in the 2004-05 season. At the Head of the American on Oct. 30, 2004, USC's Varsity Four and Novice Eight wontheir races,while the Varsity Eight was second. Then, at the Pac-10 Championships on May 15, USC's Varsity Four came in first, the Varsity Eight was third, the JV Eight was fourth and the Novice Eight was sixth.

USC VERSUS 2005 NCAA FIELD -- Already this year, USC has faced boats from half of the 2005 NCAA field: California, Stanford, UCLA, Washington, Ohio State, Princeton, Tennessee and Virginia.

AT THE 2005 PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS -- The USC's women's rowing team placed third overall and won the Varsity Four race at the 2005 Pacific-10 Rowing Championships on Lake Natoma on May 15. With this performance, the Women of Troy were seeded second in the West behind California, which gave USC its first-ever team bid for the NCAA championships. For the second time in program history(2004 was the first time), the Trojans advanced all four boats--a Varsity Eight, JV Eight, Varsity Four and Novice Eight--to the grand finals of the Pac-10 Championships. USC placed third overall (its highest finish ever) with 53 points, behind only California (67) and Washington (56), respectively. Leading the way for the Trojans was the Varsity Four, which captured the title with a winning time of 7:12:90. That was 4.10 seconds ahead of second place Washington's 7:17.00. The Women of Troy's 13th-ranked Varsity Eight boat had a time of 6:26.30 and placed third for the second consecutive year, missing second place by .20 of a second behind Stanford, which clocked a 6:26:10. California crossed the finish line with a winning time of 6:20.60. The JV Eight also had a tight race, coming in fourth by just .10 of a second behind the third place Huskies. USC clocked a time of 6:40.70 behind Cal (6:34.50), UCLA (6:37.10) and Washington (6:40.60), respectively. The Novice Eight competed in the grand finals at Pac-10 for the second time in USC's history. The Trojans finished sixth with a time of 7:04.10, preceded by race-winner Washington (6:38:00), Cal (6:42.20), Oregon State (6:44:10), Washington State (6:51.10), and UCLA (6:57.70).

LAST YEAR AT NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS -- USC's Varsity Eight boat--the Women of Troy's only qualifier--finished sixth in the Petite Final for a 12th-place overall finish on the final day of the 2004 NCAA Women's Rowing Championships on Lake Natoma. It marked a disappointing finish for the Women of Troy, who hoped to return to the Grand Final of the three-day championship event. Washington crossed the line first in a time of 6:37.8 to win the Varsity Eight Petite Final. Tenths-of-a-second separated the top three spots with Harvard finishing second (eighth overall) in 6:38.4 and Virginia finishing third (ninth overall) in 6:38.6. Tennessee (6:41.1) crossed the line fourth as Notre Dame and USC battled for position. The final two spots were decided by a tenth-of-a-second, with the Fighting Irish finishing in 6:44.0 and the Women of Troy in 6:44.1. USC stood fifth for much of the race, posting splits of 1:37.00, 1:42.55 and 1:43.09 after the 500, 1,000 and 1,500 meter-marks. Tennessee, which stood sixth heading into the final 500 meters, overtook both Notre Dame and USC with a 1:36.95 split. The Trojans clocked in 1:41.46 in the last leg of the race. The USC crew advanced to the semifinals following a fifth-place finish in the preliminary heat and a sixth-place finish in the semifinal. Brown won the varsity and junior varsity eight races en route to its fourth team title. The Bears broke a deadlock with Washington, which was tied for the all-time NCAA lead with three team championships entering the 2004 regatta.

USC HISTORY AT NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS -- Since the USC women's rowing program began offering scholarships in 1994, the Trojans have made eight consecutive appearances at the NCAA Championships - 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005. Most notably, USC captured the Women's Varsity Four national title in 1998 by defeating eventual 1999 champion Brown.

BABRAJ'S IN THIRD YEAR AT USC -- Zenon and Kelly Babraj are now in their third season at the helm of the USC women's rowing program. With a long list of accomplishments at the international and national levels, Zenon Babraj serves as the program director and co-head coach with Kelly. The pair took over in June, 2002, as only the second coaching staff in the history of the women's rowing program. The Babraj's are assisted by Craig Webster, a former head coach at UCLA with over seven years of collegiate coaching experience. Webster is in charge of the novice program.

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