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Impressive Showing at Miller Cup

April 23, 2006

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The LMU women's rowing team put together a strong showing in its final home races of the season at the Miller Cup Regatta. The Lions placed second in the varsity 8 Grand Final and the varsity 4 Grand Final, and won the 2nd Varsity 8 Petite Final.

The Miller Cup Regatta, held in Ballona Creek,featured six Southern California schools- LMU, UCLA, UC Irvine, San Diego State, UC Santa Barbara, and West Coast Conference foe University of San Diego.

"This event really helps us prepare well for our conference championships, which are just a few days away. The women performed well. We need to continue to execute over the full 2000 meters and work this week in practice to see about getting a little more speed,"said Head Coach Patrick Kelly.

The Miller Cup regatta is run with a heats and finals format. Racing began bright and early at 7AM. The winners of the two heats in each event advance to the Grand Final, along with the faster of the two second place heat times for the respective event. The other crews go on to the Petite Final. In this fashion each boat is assured two trips down the course.

"With this format you really need to put together solid back to back efforts. There wasn't much down time for the athletes between the heats and finals. I was pleased with the rowers focus today. All the boats handled themselves well. It was especially exciting to see the Varsity 4 come together. Those athletes haven't spent too much time in that lineup. They are getting better every time out," said Assistant Coach Sara-Mai Conway.

The V4 raced its heat in a time of 7:23 to finish in second place to a solid San Diego State crew, who clocked 7:21. The Lions then had to wait to see about the times from the other heat. UCLA won that heat in 7:22, with USD finishing in 7:35. LMU's faster 2nd place time put them into the Grand Final. UCSB and UCI were the respective third place boats in their heats.

The V4, consisting of coxswain Amy Guion, stroke Sydney Johnson, 3 seat Jen Topor, 2 seat Lindsay Vitort, and bow Whitney Sholl, rowed well in the Grand Final but couldn't keep pace with UCLA. They finished in 2nd, 11 seconds behind the Bruins, while outpacing the Aztecs by that same margin, 11 seconds. "It was fantastic to come out and put that distance between us and San Diego State after they had edged us in the heat. The girls rowed a wonderful race," said Coach Conway.

The Second Varsity 8 found themselves on the wrong side of the `next fastest time' format in their event. The 2V8 finished in 6:49 behind UCLA's 6:35 with UCSB clocking 7:20.

"Those girls were in a tough position. They were down on the Bruins by a bit and out ahead of Santa Barbara. So they just pushed for time. That's all you can do. Then you row to the dock and see about the other heat," commented Kelly.

The times fell in favor of USD. The Toreros finished second to San Diego State, posting a time of 6:47, 7 seconds behind SDSU - but 2 seconds faster than the LMU 2V.

Speaking about the 2V8, Coach Kelly said, "It would have been nice to make that Grand, but we didn't quite put it together. So during the break we talked about a couple of goals to take into the Petite Final. We felt like if we could execute a better first 250 meters (of the 2000 meter race), getting off the line a little quicker, and find a better rhythm, we could put together a better race. The effort was there. We needed to channel it more effectively. And to their credit, that is exactly what they did."

The Lions won the Petite Final with a time of 7:03, ahead of UCSB's 7:31. In the Grand UCLA (6:43) finished on top with SDSU (6:57) following and USD placing third in 7:08.

"You can't necessarily compare times, but since the races were run right after one another, you at least have a chance for similar conditions. So we wanted to post a faster time than USD. The rowers did an excellent job of pushing over the second thousand, after they had already separated themselves from Santa Barbara. They showed good intensity," remarked Kelly.

The Second Varsity Eight consisted of coxswain Mona Sumibcay, stroke Kathryn Maloney, 7 seat Bettina Messerli, 6 seat Meggan Brunette, 5 seat Janelle Brunette, 4 seat Jen Glassman, 3 seat Larissa Meltz, 2 seat Renee Thompson, and bow seat Courtney Bannerman.

In the race for the Norman Miller Cup, awarded to the winner of the Varsity 8 race, the Lions entered as the second seed. LMU won its heat in 6:35 with SDSU and UCI following. In the other heat UCLA, seeded first, cruised to a victory over UCSB and USD. By virtue of its faster 2nd place time, the Gauchos of UCSB grabbed the other Grand Finals slot.

"We felt that if we could row the race we were capable of we should be in the Grand Final. Today was about putting two efforts together in a short amount of time. And, of course, we knew we'd then be facing a tough UCLA squad," said Kelly.

The Lions' V8, made up of coxswain Jenn Guess, stroke Liz Stewart, 7 Carla Conway, 6 Christina Duechle, 5 Courtney Cox, 4 Alli Mitrovich, 3 Marni Hietbrink, 2 Erin Ludwig, and bow Jill Austin, raced well in the final but didn't have enough to take the cup from UCLA. LMU finished in 6:25.4 to UCLA's 6:19.4. UCSB trailed at 6:42.3.

"UCLA has been ranked 14 or 15 nationally all year. The NCAA selection committee will choose the top 16 schools to go to the National Championships. So this type of race lets us see the step we have to make to compete at that level," stated Kelly. "We'll keep at it and use this to bring us into our conference championship regatta in the right frame of mind."

Complete results can be found at www.row2k.com/results/

Next up for the Lions is the West Coast Conference Championship Regatta on Friday, April 28, with the V8, 2V8, and V4 being run at Noon, 12:20, and 12:40 respectively. The five conference schools with Varsity Women's Rowing are USD, St. Mary's, Santa Clara, Gonzaga, and LMU. The event will be held at Lake Natoma, in Sacramento, CA.

The LMU Men and Women then race Saturday and Sunday, April 29 and 30, at Lake Natoma in the WIRA Championships. Complete regatta information can be found at www.csusaquaticcenter.com/ WIRA.htm