Women's Rowing Prepares For The Pac-10 Championships

May 11, 2005

The UCLA Women's Rowing Team will travel to Sacramento this weekend to compete in the Pacific Coast Rowing Championships (May 14) and the Pac-10 Rowing Championships (May 15). The events will be held at the California State University, Sacramento Aquatic Center course on Lake Natoma. UCLA will compete against California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, USC, Washington, Washington State, and a handful of guest schools.

The Bruins approach the Pac-10 Championships coming off strong regular season performances in both dual meet racing as well as multi-crew regattas. The team is entered in all four Pac-10 Championship events; the varsity eight, second varsity eight, varsity four, and novice eight. The Bruins, whose varsity eight is ranked 18th in the nation, are looking to have their best races of the year this weekend. 'We have worked all year on the whole team concept, and we all understand that our success will be based on how well this whole team performs', says Head Coach Amy Fuller Kearney.

The varsity eight, which is seeded fifth, contains five seniors: Kristin Bixel, Monica Grova, Kelsey Hicks, Emina Ong (coxswain), and Jessica Rogers. The remainder of the varsity eight is comprised of junior Liz Pallas-Jacobs, sophomores Jessica Fritz and Elizabeth Lee, and freshman Erin Haggerty. Throughout the season the varsity eight has performed well, including winning the Miller Cup, securing wins over Texas and Clemson at the Windermere Classic, and finishing fourth in the Jessop - Whittier Cup at the San Diego Crew Classic. 'We have had some great races, and we've also had some not so perfect races, but at the same time I think that we have learned something from every race,' says Fuller Kearney. 'To get the results we want this weekend, we will need to have the best race of our year, and I think we are ready for that. We have prepared all year, done the work and put in the effort. These women are fired up and willing to go hard over the entire 2000 meters. It should be a great weekend.'

UCLA will face California, USC, Gonzaga, Sacramento State, San Diego State, and Loyola Marymount in the first heat of the varsity eight at 9:20 AM. The top three crews will advance to the grand final at 1:30 PM.

The second varsity eight is seeded sixth for the championships. The crew is comprised of seniors Lauren Hamann, Melanie Salter, and Elizabeth Felter; sophomores Leah Wachtel, Erin Rice, Jessica Holt, and Kirsten Potenza (coxswain); and freshmen Patricia Dudziec and Jaclyn Roewe. The second varsity eight's season has been highlighted by wins over Texas and Clemson at the Windermere Classic, wins over Minnesota, San Diego State and the University of San Diego, and a rare dead heat with USC. 'We've shown great boat speed throughout the year, yet we've also showed that we can get a little rattled if we're not careful,' says Fuller Kearney. 'Going into this race, we are making sure that we don't react, but instead attack, and will keep trying to picture ourselves ahead.'

UCLA will race in their qualifying heat at 9:10 AM against Washington, Washington State, Oregon State, and San Diego State. The top three crews will advance to the grand final at 12:50 PM.

The varsity four enters the championship as the number three seed based on their strong undefeated regular season. The crew has recorded wins over USC, Stanford, and Loyola Marymount and captured the varsity four event at the Miller Cup as well. The line-up includes sophomores Brittany Merchant and coxswain Megan McQuown along with freshmen Bailey Blosser, Elizabeth Herron, and Alexandra Banis. 'The varsity four has a high seed because they can be a very fast crew and I know they can do very well,' says Fuller Kearney. 'But I also know that they need to focus on themselves and not on the competition. They're a feisty four, and it's going to be fun to watch them row. I think they can do as well as they are willing to do.'

UCLA will race their qualifying heat at 8:10 AM. The four boat heat line-up also includes Washington State, Oregon State, and Stanford. The top three crews will advance to the grand final at 11:30 AM.

'I think the biggest challenge the varsity and second varsity have faced has been moving from being a non-NCAA competitor to being ranked in the top sixteen in the country. They've done a lot of work over the years, especially the seniors, in building this program up from the club level to where we are now, a nationally ranked team,' says Fuller Kearney. 'To break into the top group in the Pac-10, which is a really strong conference, is really going to be about mental toughness, having a winning attitude, and believing that you should be ahead.'

Racing in their final Pac-10 Championship, the seniors, along with the rest of the team, hope to secure a bid to the NCAA Championships. 'Our goal at the beginning of the year was an at large bid for the varsity eight. But clearly our second varsity eight and four have shown us glimpses that it may be possible to get a team bid for UCLA,' says Fuller Kearney. 'It won't be easy, but if we perform to our best potential and show the same speed that we have been showing in practice, then there is no reason why we can't come away with a team bid.'

Although not part of the NCAA championships, the Pac-10 regatta includes the novice eight category. UCLA's novice eight, seeded fourth, has a different line-up than they had one month ago. Freshmen Maida Habibovic, Mattison Pasion, Sarah Miller, Katherine Vaughan, Erika Roby, Shadia Ghoneim and Emily Gibson (coxswain) will be joined by sophomore Clara Cartwright and senior Sarah Lombardo. This season the novice eight placed second at the San Diego Crew Classic, won their event at Miller Cup, and posted a clean sweep at the Windermere Classic with consecutive victories over Washington, California, and Clemson. 'The novice eight has a different line-up from the Windermere Classic, and they have had the challenge of proving themselves as a crew,' says Fuller Kearney. 'They are a relatively new crew together and they get better every time they go out and race. If they come in with a lot of intensity and focus, then they will perform well.'

UCLA will also compete in the open four event in the Pacific Coast Rowing Championships. That crew is an all sophomore line-up (Alexis Kalionzes, Anna Lindel, Jessica Meredith, Kirsten Moore) with the exception of freshman coxswain Kirsten Triemstra. Their qualifying heat is scheduled for 10:00 AM on Saturday and includes the California lightweights, UC San Diego, Washington State, Oregon, and Sonoma State.

Admission to the Pac-10 Championships is $5 per person. Preferred on-site parking costs $7. For more information, please visit the Pac-10 website at www.pac-10.org and the CSUS Aquatic Center website at www.csusaquaticcenter.com.

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