GU Ready For Their Shot At The Western Sprints
May 11, 2017
SATURDAY, MAY 13, 2017 | GOLD RIVER, CALIF. | LAKE NATOMA | WESTERN SPRINTS
SPOKANE, Wash. – The Gonzaga Bulldogs will look to qualify for their 11th trip to the IRA Championships on May 13 as they enter the Western Sprints at Lake Natoma in Gold River, Calif. for the fourth consecutive year.
The Western Sprints in its current form has existed since 2014, and the Bulldogs last advanced to the IRA’s in 2014 as they won the varsity eight race two seconds faster than San Diego. The top two finishers in the varsity eight race each year advance to the IRA Championships. Competing against the Zags this year are Oklahoma City, San Diego, Santa Clara, and UC San Diego. UC San Diego is receiving votes in the latest USRowing Collegiate Poll. In the latest varsity eight cMax Rankings, Santa Clara leads the way at number 28, USD is 38, UCSD is at 40, and Gonzaga is number 70. Last season the Zags’ top crew took fourth and they finished fifth in 2015.
“The athletes have been working hard on final preparations for our championship,” Gonzaga head coach Dan Gehn said. “This has been a disruptive year with weather and injuries, but I feel we have made some good strides the last three weeks. With final exams behind us we are ready to go!”
The second varsity eight boat won the Western Sprints in 2015, finished runner-up last season and in 2014. The third varsity eight finished runner-up last year, and third in 2015 and 2014.
The event is held at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center, one of the finest facilities in the country, and in conjunction with Nimbus Flats State Park, is the established site of every major west coast championship for high school and collegiate rowing. The third varsity eight race opens the day at 1:30 pm, followed shortly by the second varsity eight race at 1:45 pm. The main event, the varsity eight race, will determine who advances to the IRA Championships at 2:00 pm PST.
The Bulldogs have raced on the course one time previously this season, the Head of the American regatta, on October 29. GU only traveled with their top crew and finished in seventh place finish with a time of 16:55.5. They were four seconds behind the boat from San Diego, but defeated boats from Santa Clara, UC Santa Barbara, San Diego State, and Stanford.
Prior to the 2014 season, the Bulldogs attempted to qualify for the IRA Championships through the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association (WIRA) Championship, held at the same site.
GU advanced to the IRA Championships through the WIRA Championships nine times, including every year from 2004-2013 except 2010. The Zags were WIRA Champions in the varsity eight in 2013, 2012, 2009, and 2006. In addition, the Zags’ top crew finished runner-up in 2011, 2008, 2007, and 2003. The second varsity eight crew took home victories at the WIRA Championships in 2009, 2007, and 2002, with second-place finishes in 2012, 2010, and 2006. The Bulldogs also entered a novice eight boat in the WIRA’s finishing second in 2013, 2012, 2011, 2009, 2008, and 2006.
The fastest time the varsity eight has recorded in the event came in the 2012 victory at 5:57.6, a comfortable eight seconds better than San Diego. The top second varsity eight time was the runner-up finish in 2006 at 6:06.0, four seconds behind Orange Coast College but six seconds ahead of UC San Diego. In the three years the third varsity eight has been rowing in the Western Sprints, their best time was last year at 6:33.0 for the runner-up finish.
As mentioned earlier, the Zags first battled San Diego and Santa Clara this year at the Head of the American on October 29 at Lake Natoma. The Bulldogs were one spot behind San Diego in seventh place, but beat all the boats from Santa Clara. The Bulldogs opened the spring season on March 17 facing USD, SCU, and UC San Diego. GU finished last in the varsity eight, but was just four seconds behind UCSD. The Bulldogs raced UCSD on April 1 in the San Diego Crew Classic, finishing third, 15 seconds behind first-place UCSD. On April 15, the Zags raced against UCSD in their heat at the Kerr Cup in Philadelphia. UCSD finished two spots ahead of the fourth-place Zags, 16 seconds faster.
Directions to Lake Natoma From Sacramento International Airport: Follow the airport exit signs. Take I-5 South toward downtown Sacramento. Take the Highway 50 East exit heading toward South Lake Tahoe and take the Hazel Avenue exit (Rancho Cordova area). Left at Hazel heading North, make the next right turn to enter the Nimbus Flats/Lake Natoma Park. The CSUS Aquatic Center is the next right past the park entrance at Gold Country Boulevard.
Directions from Highway 80: Heading West from Auburn or East from Sacramento or San Francisco take the Sierra College exit (in the City of Rocklin) and turn South on Sierra College. In about 6 miles Sierra College becomes Hazel Avenue, continue South through the town of Orangevale and finally across the American River. The first left after the river at Gold Country Boulevard is the CSUS Aquatic Center. The second left after the river is the entrance to Nimbus Flats State Park and Lake Natoma.
From Downtown and Highway 50 East: Heading West from Lake Tahoe or East from Sacramento or San Francisco take the Hazel Avenue exit (Rancho Cordova area). Left at Hazel heading North, make the next right turn to enter the Nimbus Flats State Park and Lake Natoma. The CSUS Aquatic Center is the next right past the park entrance at Gold Country Boulevard.
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