SAN DIEGO — Facing uncertainty, adversity, and a major delay in the racing schedule, the 14th-ranked USC women’s rowing team fought on to produce several strong performances in grand finals at the 43rd-annual San Diego Crew Classic on the waters of Mission Bay on Sunday, April 3.
“I’m very proud of this group,” said head coach Zenon Babraj. “I felt we were very strong in our heats despite being such a young crew. On Wednesday, as we were packing our boats, we got word that one of our varsity eight rowers (Sasha Varekova) was sick and would not be able to race this weekend. Because of that, we had to shift our lineups from the top boat all the way down. I felt our second varsity eight was hit the hardest with the change, but I really think our student-athletes handled the entire situation wonderfully.”
After facing a long delay due to heavy fog in the bay, all races began to face heavy winds and strong wakes. In the main event of the day, the Trojans’ varsity eight fought to defend the Jessop-Whittier Cup and raced a strong race with California and Texas, but was edged in the end by the Golden Bears (6:49.468) and was barely behind Texas (6:51.682). USC finished with a time of 6:51.772, just a tenth of a second behind the Longhorns. Behind the call of junior coxswain Kaelyn Ibold and the stroke of freshman Athina Angelopoulou, the Women of Troy did finish ahead of Wisconsin, Washington State, Gonzaga, San Diego, and UCLA, in an eight-boat field.
“With an already young lineup, and with such sudden changes, we performed admirably,” said Babraj. “We had a freshman stroking our top boat for the first time and she showed that she was ready to do it. For all the changes and the weather delay, I felt that all of our boats had great races. The time change affected our course greatly because strong winds began to arrive and large wakes were affecting the waters. Still, we ran a strong race and were within tenths of a second of second place and just two seconds behind California, which I feel has the strongest varsity eight in the country.”
In the Women’s Collegiate 2V grand final for the Jackie Ann Stitt Hungness Trophy, USC’s 2V8 turned in a time of 7:07.076 for a third-place finish behind California (6:53.673) and Texas (6:57.600). Junior coxswain Pecko Lin called the race for the Trojans, who finished ahead of Gonzaga, Wisconsin, and Washington State.
USC also took a third-place finish in the grand final of the Women’s Collegiate Varsity 4+ division for the Karen Plumleigh Cortney Cup. California swept the top three boats with a finish of 7:53.859 and outpaced Texas (7:59.622) and the Trojans’ time of 8:09.050. The Women of Troy crossed the line ahead of San Diego, UCLA, and Washington State.
In the Women’s Collegiate 4+ B final, the Trojans finished second with a time of 8:17.356 to San Diego’s time of 8:13.099. The Women of Troy outran UCLA, Sacramento State, and San Diego State. In the Women’s Open division for the Carley Copley Cup, USC’s third varsity eight finished in fifth place with a time of 7:41.625.
“It’s a great mark to have been able to be within two seconds of the winner today,” said Babraj. “There is so much room for improvement despite this being a rebuilding year for us. I am very excited for what’s to come, especially when we are able to get our lineup back to full strength. This is going to be a competitive team and I think the way we raced today showed that there is a hunger in this team to improve and to do great things this season.”
For a complete schedule and race results, please visit CrewClassic.org. Please visit USCTrojans.com for a complete schedule of races for the Women of Troy. Fans of the Trojans can and follow and like @USCWomensRowing on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
2016 SAN DIEGO CREW CLASSIC
Mission Bay | San Diego, Calif.
April 2-3, 2016
RESULTS and BOATINGS
Sunday, April 3
* Note: Lane assignment noted next to finish