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Defying expectations, UCLA rowing earns 1st-place finishes at Big Ten Invitational

The team rows the boat. UCLA split its matches on Friday and Saturday. (Myka Fromm/Daily Bruin)

By Ira Gorawara

April 11, 2023 12:57 p.m.

The blue and gold saw a regatta of peaks and valleys this weekend at the Big Ten Invitational.

With all four boats making their appearance in the water, UCLA rowing (0-1) raced in the Big Ten Invitational in Sarasota, Florida on Saturday and Sunday. The Bruins set the event in motion with a clean sweep of all four events on Friday morning.

“It boosted our morale tremendously,” said coach Previn Chandraratna. “We haven’t seen a lot of racing this year, so there’s a bit of uncertainty so that helped us shake out the cobweb. We were pretty excited with the start.”

A triumphant morning session on Friday was characterized by first-place finishes across the board, securing the win by at least two-second margins of victory in each event.

The varsity eight crew emerged with the most convincing victory, registering a final time of 6:39.418, while the second-place finishers marked a time of 6:44.672, leaving the blue and gold over five seconds ahead of its closest competition.

The tenacity with which the squad brought in Friday morning’s races was a product of its hunger to disprove preconceived expectations, according to junior port Mia Glinn.

“Going into the regatta, we wanted to make our mark,” Glinn said. “Both the rankings and people’s expectations of us were lower than we wanted, so we wanted to come in and show them who we are.”

Nevertheless, the same day’s afternoon session saw a flip of the outcomes, as the Bruins were positioned last in three of their four events.

Both the first and second varsity eight crews fell by a margin of six and seven seconds, respectively, as Glinn noted they need to work toward cutting seconds in the middle of the race.

“All it takes is taking those seconds back,” Glinn said. “We found ourselves maintaining our speed in the last race, but in order to beat some of these crews we lost to, we need to literally get faster in the middle of the race and be able to make moves and push against our opponents.”

Between Friday’s morning and afternoon sessions, almost all blue and gold boats added multiple seconds to their final times. The varsity eight were the only ones who cut one second from their morning delivery, while all three other UCLA crews added between four to 12 seconds to their time.

According to senior port Olivia Caesar, the drop in the squad’s performance was a testament to the tougher competition but also the need to home in on endurance training.

“There were definitely significantly tougher opponents,” Caesar said. “We were rowing better, but we weren’t able to translate the aggression that we had in the morning races to the afternoon races, and we need to make sure we are getting that race endurance ready to be able to complete two races in a day without letting the fatigue get to us.”

As day one concluded and day two commenced, it was the varsity four crews who rose to the occasion and ensured two top-two finishes for the blue and gold.

UCLA’s varsity four boat accomplished a commanding victory over Alabama, Wisconsin and Minnesota, as it logged a first-place win with a nine-second advantage over runner-up Alabama. The time difference marked the largest gap between the first and second finishers throughout the Big Ten Invitational.

“The varsity four both were very disciplined with their race plan and executed it to a tee,” Previn said. “They were strong and focused and implemented all the things we have been drilling into them the last few weeks, so it was very exciting to see.”

Mirroring their counterparts, the second varsity four came away with a second-place finish, as it fell just six seconds behind first-place Alabama.

“They have gone out there with real aggression and have been working really competitively against each other, which has helped them execute fantastic races,” Caesar said. “They put on a really good display of what UCLA rowing is all about. They had a really cracking rhythm that they were relentless with all the way down the course and put in some brilliant moves where they needed to go.”

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Ira Gorawara | Sports editor
Gorawara is the 2024-2025 Sports editor on the football, men’s basketball and NIL beats and a Copy contributor. She was previously an assistant Sports editor on the men’s volleyball, men’s tennis, women’s volleyball and rowing beats and a contributor on the men’s volleyball and rowing beats. She is a rising third-year economics and communication student minoring in professional writing from Hong Kong.
Gorawara is the 2024-2025 Sports editor on the football, men’s basketball and NIL beats and a Copy contributor. She was previously an assistant Sports editor on the men’s volleyball, men’s tennis, women’s volleyball and rowing beats and a contributor on the men’s volleyball and rowing beats. She is a rising third-year economics and communication student minoring in professional writing from Hong Kong.
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