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UCLA rowing uses teamwork, connection to earn victory at Lake Natoma Invitational

UCLA rowing four boat pulls through the water. The Bruins’ second varsity four picked up wins in Lake Natoma Invitational’s morning and afternoon sessions, counting for half of the team’s points through the event. (Myka From/Photo editor)

By Chloe Agas

April 8, 2024 2:42 p.m.

This post was updated April 9 at 9:57 p.m.

For Rachel Katz, camaraderie builds character in stroke.

The sophomore took on a new crew with the second varsity four after competing with the third varsity eight in her inaugural season.

“Being in the second varsity four was a big goal of mine this year,” the starboard said. “The technical aspects and the camaraderie that’s required in the fours feels like a different racing style. It’s super electric.”

Emerging victorious on the surface, No. 20 UCLA rowing’s second varsity four would ultimately be responsible for two of the Bruins’ four total wins at the Lake Natoma Invitational on Saturday. The team met Loyola Marymount, Gonzaga, Miami, Sacramento State and Tulsa in Gold River, California. The Bruins’ second varsity eight and varsity four crews also contributed to the record – crossing the finish line first in the morning races at 6:48.70 and 7:35.80 times, respectively.

After her second varsity four crew finished with 7:44.20 and 8:03.10 clips in Saturday’s races, Katz said connection and teamwork were instrumental in achieving these top-position feats.

“The emotional connection between all of us is strong because of the hard training that we go through together,” Katz said. “Finding a way to make sure that the boat feels like a collective unit and make sure that everyone is fully dialed in on what we’re doing.”

On the other end of the roster, UCLA’s varsity eight boat finished in third place in both the morning and afternoon races with times of 6:38.10 and 6:57.70, respectively. The third varsity eight would also receive third place in the morning at 6:58.60 – but moved down to the fourth spot in the afternoon.

Redshirt junior Emily Sutherland said her varsity eights have yet to find the success she thinks they deserve but added that belief and maturity are key moving forward.

“We’re a very mature crew this year,” the starboard said. “Moving forward into racing season, we need to trust our fitness and the work we’ve done. We’ve got to believe in ourselves and believe that we can beat these other high-performing programs.”

As the season progresses, UCLA now has a total of seven race wins – four on Sunday and three in its tri-meet against USC and LMU.

Ultimately, coach Previn Chandraratna said the Lake Natoma Invitational will pay its dividends in future meets.

“The purpose of the race was to get some experience on the Pac-12 course,” Chandraratna said. “To learn to race with resilience over 2000 meters. And, in that sense, it was a valuable weekend.”

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