No. 1 Washington and No. 2 California have been the stars of Pac-12 rowing.
Those two schools will be leading the line over the weekend at the conference championship, where No. 20 UCLA will be looking to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament at the end of the month.
“I expect (the races) to be incredibly fast,” said coach Amy Fuller Kearney. “Washington and Cal are one and two, Stanford’s up there and Washington State has been really impressive this year.”
The Bruins head into the meet in mixed circumstances.
A couple of rowers are nursing injuries and working to get back in time to compete. But despite some struggles, the team’s practices of late have been able to generate confidence.
“Last week wasn’t great, but it’s been really good this week,” Fuller Kearney said. “I think we’re hitting our stride at the right time.”
Fuller Kearney mentioned last week that she wanted her lineup to be more established so they could practice together and have time to build an effective working relationship.
That appears to be paying off, as the positive practice displays indicate.
“We’re excited,” Fuller Kearney said. “People are starting to get comfortable in their seats, and the lineups have been together awhile so they’re starting to mesh.”
With the team chemistry beginning to translate into presumably better race times in practice, the Bruins now look to pursue a complete race. That has eluded them so far this season.
“Our goal is to put together a full two kilometers,” Fuller Kearney said. “We’ve had some races with great starts, some with great middles, but we’re really looking to hit on all cylinders for the whole two kilometers.”
Some changes, however, will be mandated based on the Pac-12 championship rules.
Instead of fielding the third varsity boat, like UCLA did against USC last time out, the team will have to put out a novice boat.
Regardless, the Bruins must turn in a strong display at the meet so they can book their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
They are currently in the top 20, which is on the borderline of a championship berth. Ranking, especially one right on the edge, is not the only factor in play for UCLA.
“I can’t really speculate on (where we have to place to make the NCAA Tournament),” Fuller Kearney said. “A lot of it has to do with the finishes at the other conference championships. We’re going to just go as fast as we can. I don’t know if the place matters as much as what the margins are.”