At the end of an electrifying season, the No. 7 UCLA women’s rowing team looks to push past regional foes to land a spot at the national championship at this Sunday’s Pac-12 meet.
“It has been a really great year, so I can’t imagine a better way to end my senior season,” said senior Ariel Handler.
Handler is the coxswain for the second varsity eight boat, which is undefeated this season and is ranked No. 1 in the Pac-12. As a senior, her steady leadership will be missed at season’s end.
“These girls have been working so hard this year, and everything they have done has been going toward this one race,” Handler said. “We’ve beat every single team in this race, so I think they’re ready to just do it again.”
Though the second varsity eight boat remains a strong competitor in Sunday’s meet, it will not be UCLA’s only competitive boat. Having garnered a victory against No. 3 USC, a meet that UCLA lost by one point, the novice eight boat will also be a fierce contender.
Along with its crosstown rivals, UCLA will face tough races against No. 1 California, No. 8 Washington, No. 12 Stanford and No. 17 Washington State.
“I think there are quite a few teams that have the ability to win the championship this weekend,” said coach Amy Fuller Kearney. “Cal is the defending champion and they’re always a really strong team.”
After missing out on the opportunity to compete as a team at the NCAA championship last year, the Bruins are looking to finish well on Sunday in order to secure a place at the final meet.
“They don’t have an exact number of teams that they take from the Pac-12, but in relation to how we do against the other boats, we’ll have a pretty good idea from the afternoon if we’re going or not,” Handler said.
The team received its first-ever NCAA championship selection in 2010, and it has been itching to return, as is evident by its efforts this season.
“I’m really excited because I definitely think we have a chance to do really, really well this year if all of the boats perform at their best,” said junior Britta Syverson.
With the help of an excellent recruiting class, the team earned an unprecedented No. 3 ranking this season, and consistently had boats place first at their regular season meets.
“I think they’ve earned it, honestly,” Handler said. “All of us have earned the race this weekend. They’ve earned the gold medal ““ they just have to go get it.”