Monday, July 15

UCLA rowing hopes to win Pacific Coast Rowing Championships for a spot in NCAA Tournament

The team will face tough competition this weekend as it battles for a position in nationals

A much desired spot in the NCAA Championships is at stake this weekend for the UCLA rowing team, which will be competing to make its first appearance at nationals since 2007.

The No. 12 Bruins begin their postseason on Saturday with the Pacific Coast Rowing Championships before competing to qualify for the national championship during Sunday’s Pac-10 Championships at Lake Natoma.

While the main focus of the weekend is on Sunday, Saturday’s competition is still important to coach Amy Fuller Kearney, who said season-best performances from all boats is the team’s goal this weekend.

Even with back-to-back competitions, Kearney is not concerned about fatigue since no team member will row on both days. In order to avoid overlap with Sunday’s competition, the novice four and second varsity four will be the only Bruin boats participating on Saturday.

After a close 4-3 loss to No. 8 USC on May 1, the team hopes to make a fresh start in the postseason by learning from the defeat.

“Not letting anything distract us from being the best out there is key,” said Kearney on what the team needed to do to succeed this weekend. “We need a higher percentage of quality starts and really we need to just focus on each pass inside every boat.”

The Bruins will face USC again Sunday, along with two-time defending conference champion California, Oregon State, No. 5 Stanford, No. 7 Washington and No. 11 Washington State. UCLA competed against Oregon State on April 17, winning three of four races including both varsity eights.

No. 1 Cal has won five of the last six Pac-10 Championships and looks poised to repeat after sweeping national champions Stanford in four events in early May. The Bears also defeated Washington in the varsity eight and second varsity eight earlier this season.

In the past two weeks, intrasquad races have been an integral part of practice because Kearney feels they raise the team’s overall level of competition.

“We have been having great intrasquad competitions which push the team to become better every day in practice,” she said. “They drive everybody’s level up. We are going to be stronger and faster because we have pushed each other and supported each other all year.”

Regardless of who is competing on Saturday or Sunday, Kearney expects a cohesive team performance. While a spot in the NCAA is the obvious goal, she emphasized that season-best races from each boat are just as important.

“The improvements have been huge on our team this year and everybody is prepped and primed for one solid effort this weekend,” she said. “We would really like to have each boat have the best race of their season so far.

“If we can do that and come away with a team bid we will be extremely happy.”

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