Rowing Begins 2001 With Sights Set On NCAAs
March 13, 2001
'The persistence one needs to prepare for a race at the end of the week is an important tool if one wants to win the bigger race at the end of the season...'
-- Song of the Pack by Alessandra Phillips
Persistence is what has kept the 2001 USC women's rowers in the water for a long offseason, in the hopes that the hard work would lead them to their higher goals - the 2001 NCAA Championships.
After the JV boats missed the NCAAs in 2000, and the varsity eight placed 14th, USC has been eager to return to the water to prove it has a place as one of the stronger rowing programs in the country.
'I definitely think that everyone's expectation for this year is to get our whole team to the NCAAs,' said head coach George Jenkins, who is entering his seventh season at the helm of the USC rowing program. 'We want the varsity boats to be in medal contention and we want the JV boats to get to the finals, if not better.'
Jenkins, who led the Trojans' varsity four to the 1998 NCAA Championship title, believes that these goals are definitely realistic this season with the speed and power his team possesses.
'We have so much power in the varsity eight and it is such a strong group,' said Jenkins. 'The challenge is to try and blend a lot of various styles and make it work. This year we have a real diverse team and we need to try to put a uniform technique together.
'We have close to six women in our boat who are all over six feet tall and they can produce an awful lot of power. We have the length and we have the strength. We just have to make sure that we have the finesse and the rhythm to win races.'
USC's power this season is largely due to the return of Ivelina Boteva - a junior from Rousse, Bulgaria, who took last year off while competing with the Bulgarian National Team at the Olympic Trials - and Marketa Vochoskova of Trebon, Czech Republic - a third-year letterwinner. Boteva set a junior world record as a freshman for 2,000 meters on the ergometer at the 1998 World Indoor Rowing Championships, while Vochoskova finished second collegiately and sixth in the world at the 1999 C.R.A.S.H.-B Indoor Rowing Championships.
'With Ive and Marketa back, I feel like we have a much stronger squad than we had last year despite losing Lisa Bartoli (2000 coxswain),' said Jenkins. 'But we have a great replacement in Jenny Lysaght at cox and a group of freshmen with a lot of experience who are ready to step up and fill the shoes.'
The Olympic experience runs deep in this year's squad. Lysaght (Christchurch, New Zealand), a transfer from Lincoln University, was a part of the New Zealand national team for the 2000 Olympic Trials. Katrin Gleie (Lyngby, Denmark), also a first-year transfer from the University of Denmark, joined the Trojans straight from Sydney, Australia, where she helped lead Denmark's quadruple skulls to a fourth place finish in the prelims.
In their first year at USC, Lysaght and Gleie are joined by four other newcomers on the varsity squad, Julianna Brunzlaff (Belgershaim, Germany), Andrea Korom (Palic, Yugoslavia), Sarah Mengler (Gold Coast, Australia) - a transfer from the University of Queensland - and Melissa Zimel (Portland, Ore.).
In addition to Boteva and Vochoskova, the Trojans have a strong set of returners who continue to be the driving force in the eights. Rebecca Moneymaker (San Diego, Calif.), Amy Pearce (Ballarat, Australia), Zoï¿½ Hoskins (Edmonton, Canada) and Amelia White (Sioux Falls, S.D.) will likely power the eights this season with their experience. Moneymaker, a member of the 1998 NCAA Champion Fours, and White, a two-year veteran of the eights, will serve as team co-captains this season.
USC will also benefit from the return of Jeanne De Lapoyade (Bergerac, France), Emma Graglia (Glendora, Calif.), April Hudlett (Orlando, Fla.), Giovanna Imbesi (Ocean City, N.J.), Alzbeta Lorinczova (Komarno, Slovakia), Suzanne Rosso (Nuevo, Calif.) and Katie Sadalski (Novato, Calif.) to the varsity squad.
Four athletes make the jump from having competed with the novice team last year to the varsity in the upcoming season. They are Stacey McElderry (Glendale, Calif.), Alysia Piffero (Santa Cruz, Calif.), Sara Senno (San Rafael, Calif.) and Maria Tovar (Los Angeles).
'We can contend this year for the Pac-10 title if we stay healthy but we'll always have tough competition in the conference,' said Jenkins. 'Washington is perennially the team to beat if you want to win the conference championship.
'To prepare, we've schedule some tough opponents early on. The University of Victoria is coming here on March 24 and they are loaded with athletes that raced with the Canadian National Team. It's definitely the strongest program in Canada and we feel that if we're competitive with them then we'll be able to race with any university.'
The Trojans will host two races at the Port of Los Angeles (March 24 and April 28), and compete twice on the road before traveling to the Pac-10 Championships on May 13 in Folsom, Calif., to determine their fate in the NCAAs. Given the team's perseverance, depth and experience, it should come as no surprise to see USC gliding through the waters of the '...bigger race at the end of the season' - the 2001 NCAA Championships at Georgia's Lake Lanier.