Feb. 27, 2006
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The Toreros traveled to the Port of Los Angeles this past weekend to take on the Trojans of USC, arguably the fastest team in collegiate rowing this year. The Toreros fielded Varsity, JV and 3V Eights as well as two JV Fours and four Varsity Pairs.
"It was very exciting to have the opportunity to race a top-team like USC, especially this early in the season. Although we were definitely competing with the Trojans, our focus was on our boat and what we needed to do to make ourselves stronger," commented Senior Team Captain, Christy Baker. "Our goal for the regatta was to take a risk, and take our racing to the next level. We want to start thinking on the level of an NCAA ranked team. This race has made me even more confident for other races we have coming up this season."
And take their racing to the next level they did: the Toreros' Varsity Eight posted a 6:51 for their 2000 meter race, which is only two seconds off their fastest time of 6:49, posted in the Finals of PAC 10s in 2005.
"I was very happy to see a 6:51 this early in the season," said Head Coach, Joan O'Hara. "This is the first 2000 piece we have done. We did not use a start or high 10, we did not sprint the finish, and we had no race strategy. Basically, I was looking to see a raw score for the boat - at what speed could they cover 2000 meters? Well, we just about matched fastest time for 2005: a 6:49 raced in the Finals at PAC 10s last year. To be at this speed in February, and with basically no preparation for this type of event, is very exciting. I am extremely optimistic about what the team can do this year."
Just 18 seconds off of the Trojans, USD was well within the spread generally seen at the NCAA Championships. Last year, UCLA was 22 seconds off of the 1st place eight, Cal. "If we are correct in believing that USC will be the fastest eight in the country this year, than being within 20 seconds of them is right where we need to be. I can't wait to get into the next phase of our training plan, and start really shaving time off of our 2000 pace!" commented O'Hara. "This is going to be a fun Spring!"
Although USC won all of Saturday's events, USD made a strong showing with no blow-outs in any event. In the Pairs racing, Varsity stroke pair, Jacquelyn Harris and Christy Baker kept pace with three of the four USC pairs, tying for third place. "I had so much fun in the pairs race and was really looking forward to it," recalled Baker. "Many of the competitors in the Pairs were from different countries, which is something that I think is really great!"
Head Coaches O'Hara and Babraj (of USC) have decided to make the USD/USC scrimmage an annual event. The Toreros will plan to host the Trojans in February 2007 on Mission Bay. The two teams will see each other again next month when they travel to Lake Natoma in Sacramento for their respective Spring Break training trips.
2000 Meter Varsity Eights Race:
USC V8 6:33
USD V8 6:51
USC JV8 6:41
USD JV8 7:04