The 2016 season is shaping up to be an all-too-familiar story for UCLA rowing.
For the second straight season, the No. 20 Bruins entered the Pac-12 championship with a daunting field awaiting them. Out of the six other conference schools, five were ranked in the top 15 and only Oregon State fell outside the national rankings.
UCLA failed to finish higher than fifth place in any of its four races at Lake Natoma on Sunday, finishing sixth overall and ahead of Oregon State. No. 2 California came in first place in every race except the third varsity eight to clinch its second championship in a row and its eighth in nine years.
The Bruins’ varsity eight boat came in sixth place with a time of 6:41.096, which was about 12 seconds faster than its time in 2015. Still, the boat was nearly 20 seconds behind the Golden Bear boat that narrowly beat the Cardinal.
The second varsity eight snagged a fifth place finish over Oregon State by about three-tenths of a second in UCLA’s closest finish of the day.
It’s been 25 years since the Bruins last won a Pac-12 title in rowing, although the team finished in third place as recently as 2012. Last year, the women were ranked No. 17 coming out of the Pac-12 championship but didn’t receive an invitation to the 22-team NCAA regatta.
The 2016 championship field will be announced Tuesday. Of the 22 teams invited, half are decided by conference winners and the other 11 are chosen with at-large bids.
This year, five of the 11 automatic bids are unranked, which means that the teams ranked No. 18 to No. 20 are in the greatest danger of missing the cut for nationals. The races will be hosted by the Pac-12 at Lake Natoma for the second straight year.