May 17, 2006
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - The Torero Varsity Eight traveled to Philadelphia this past weekend to take on some of the country's top teams at the 68th Dad Vail Championship, the largest collegiate rowing regatta in the world. More than 40 Division I/Open Varsity Eights competed, including past Champions, UMass Amherst, and Villanova, and fellow WCC/WIRA competitors Santa Clara and UC Santa Barbara.
The Toreros made it through the heats easily on Friday morning, finishing first, more than 35 seconds ahead of third place, allowing them to bypass the Reps and go directly to Saturday morning's Semi-Finals. In the Semis, however, USD had a tough draw, racing #1 seed, UMass, and needing to place at least second to qualify for the Grand Final. "We definitely knew we had our work cut-out for us in the Semi," said second-year Head Coach, Joan O'Hara. "Umass was ranked first for this regatta and had been racing very well all season. In fact, they won the ECAC/Metro Championship last weekend. So basically, it was going to be a race for second." The Toreros got the job done, placing second behind UMass, and ahead of Bucknell, Colgate, Michigan and Temple. "Not only was this a great race for us, but our fastest time of the season: 6:34. The team was very excited to go into the Grand Final with that kind of speed."
"We were really preparing to win the Championship," commented Team Captain and Senior, Christy Baker. "We had the second-fastest time going into the final, and we were within just 2 seconds of UMass. I felt like Dad Vails was a great captsone to all the races of this season. I think the last 3 races were our best races. Not just because of the results,but our overall performance. It was such a positive atmosphere - we really had a senseof the history of rowing on the Schuylkill River and we wanted to leave our mark. We were also the only one of the 5 California teams to make it to the Grand Final. It was really cool to represent San Diego and the West Coast. Our team was the sharpest as far as focus, athleticism, confidence, appearance, conduct, and in the way we raced. As captain, I was really proud to represent USD Women's Rowing."
In what was described by the race announcer as "The most incredible race of the weekend," a mere 2 seconds separated 1st place from 4th. St. Joseph's, the hometown favorite, won the Grand Final ahead of UMass and fourth-place USD. The Toreros were an undetectable .1 second off of the Bronze. "That was probably the closest race I have ever seen," said Coach O'Hara. "The entire crowd sat there in awe. We had no idea who was second, third, or fourth. It was really unbelievable! It's very hard to be happy when you are one-tenth of a second out of the medals, but I have to say I am extremely pleased with how this eight raced. They brought together everything we've been training for all season: they were confident, competitive, and fearless. They went out there to win. I would much rather have them able to take that risk and come-up short, than afraid to fail and holding back. They left everything out on the racecourse. This very young team (7 of the 8 are walk-on freshman or sophomores) certainly has an exciting future ahead of them! What a remarkable season this has been!"
The Toreros will open the 2006-07 racing season at the Head of the Charles in Boston, Massachusetts in October.
Dad Vail Championship, 2006, Women's Varsity Eight. Actual Photo-Finish! 1st St. Joseph's 6:40.02; 2nd U Mass 6:41.58; 3rd Buffalo 6:42.14; 4th San Diego 6:42.24; 5th Villanova 6:42.98; 6th University of Rhode Island 6:51.38.