May 2, 2006
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -The University of San Diego women's rowing team competed at the WCC Championship and the WIRA Championship this weekend at Lake Natoma. The WCC Championship, held on Friday, resulted in disappointment for the Toreros.
"We really had our hopes set on USD's first Championship win this weekend," commented second-year Head Coach, Joan O'Hara, who was named WCC Coach of the Year in 2005. "Instead, we had a heartbreaking loss.
"The team has performed very well all season. We have improved our fitness and speed dramatically this year- but, so have all the other WCC schools."
The Varsity Eights race was a very competitive, with all five teams crossing the 1000-meter mark dead even. Loyola pulled away from the pack in the third 500 meters, finishing in 6:38. Unfortunately, the Toreros crossed the line fifth, just one second behind fourth place Santa Clara. Six seconds separated second place from fifth.
"I could not have been more proud of the team," said O'Hara. "They raced with passion and determination. In any other year, our speed would have placed us first or second, but this year's race was exceptionally fast. In speaking with the other WCC coaches, who have been in the conference much longer than I have, they said that they have never seen a championship race this close. It's unfortunate for us this year, but very positive for our conference in general. The WCC is really knocking on the door of the nationally-ranked teams. Last weekend, Loyola was only five seconds off of No. 15 UCLA. So as a conference, we are really stepping-up the standards."
The Toreros rallied for the WIRA Championship on Saturday and Sunday. The Varsity Women's Pair won the event with a blistering time of 7:47, a very comfortable 17 seconds ahead of second place Puget Sound, bringing home the first WIRA trophy in USD history.
"The Women's Pair, Christy Baker and Jaquelyn Harris, are such talented athletes," commented O'Hara. "They clearly out-classed the other 11 schools in the event. Their time would have placed the fifth in the Open Men's Pair Grand Final. I would really like to see them go after the US National Championship title in this event this summer."
The Varsity Women's Four took second, just 2.5 seconds behind conference-rival St. Mary's, with another record setting race for USD. The Women's Lightweight Four, consisting of four walk-on Novice athletes, also medaled for the first time in USD history, taking third place. The Novice Four took first in the Petite Final, and the Second Varsity made the Grand Final with a time of 6:56. The Varsity Eight competed in another close race, missing the Grand Final by just two seconds. They placed third in the Petite Final with a time of 6:45, three seconds off of first place Puget Sound, and beating conference rivals Santa Clara and St. Mary's, whom they had lost to on Friday. Their time would have placed them fifth in the Grand Final, ahead of San Diego State.
"It's heartbreaking to be so close to a huge victory like the WIRA Championship title, and miss it by two seconds. It would have been such a great accomplishment for a small team like ours, which is made-up of mainly freshman and sophomore walk-ons," said coach O'Hara. "But that's the way it went this year, and I am so proud of this team for what they have done. Now that we know it is within reach, we will be gunning for the WIRA Championship title in 2007. Our team morale is very high, and these athletes are hungry for that win next year."
Overall, the Toreros brought home 12 medals and one trophy from this year's WIRA Championship, and two of the athletes, sophomore Rachel Ourieff and freshman Samantha Shorey, were named to the All-WIRA Conference Team.
The Toreros final race of the 2006 season will be the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia on May 13-14th where they will race more than 30 teams from all over the country.