No. 18 UCLA Rowing Opens Season on Saturday Morning
The UCLA women's rowing program returns to action this weekend against Loyola Marymount in Marina del Rey.
After an extremely unusual offseason, including the majority of the Bruins' 2020 rowing season halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UCLA's rowers have been eagerly looking forward to getting back on the water and competing.
Saturday morning's races against Loyola Marymount will include competitions with the Bruins' varsity eight and varsity four crews. Later this month (March 27), the Bruins are scheduled to face crosstown rival USC in Marina del Rey.
"This year, we have made our priority on growth and development," said head coach Amy Fuller Kearney, who enters her 20th season leading the women's rowing program. "We want to be the very best we can be in each race. It's impossible to know where we are, as some teams have been training a lot longer. But for our program, it's been about the opportunity to get better every single stroke."
The Bruins open the spring ranked No. 18 in the preseason CRCA rowing poll and will be looking toward a trio of senior team captains to guide the way. Juliette Frank, Shelby Meksto and Leila Bernstein all competed in the Bruins' season-opening races against San Diego State in March 2020, before the season ended abruptly due to the global pandemic. After a year-long wait to resume competition, the Bruins' captains have helped keep their team energized, motivated and ready.
"It has been a testament to their character and leadership that they were voted in by this team," Fuller Kearney said. "They have been doing the work to be motivated when we could not be together. They've certainly earned this honor of being voted as captains."
UCLA's program is set to return 12 seniors, 11 juniors and 19 sophomores in 2021.
In addition, the Bruins have welcomed an impressive freshman class. While several international freshmen student-athletes have been unable to join the team in Los Angeles during the ongoing pandemic, Fuller Kearney says she is excited to see several newcomers make early contributions in the top two varsity boats.
Freshmen Rosemary Varney and Mia Glinn are expected to open the season rowing in the varsity eight crew, while Grace Hinckley, Paige Ortzman and Austyn Sirmon will begin the spring season in the second varsity eight boat.
"I've really been impressed with this freshman class," Fuller Kearney said. "Unfortunately, we have had quite a few international athletes who aren't able to come to campus yet. We're really looking forward to having them join us. But for those that are here, they have had great attitudes and have been very coachable. It's a really impressive group."
Saturday's races are scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. (PT). Due to ongoing physical distancing measures and similar Los Angeles County limitations, fans will not be permitted at UCLA's races on Saturday morning in Marina del Rey.