Zags In Search Of Third-Straight WCC Championship
May 11, 2017
SATURDAY, MAY 13, 2017 | GOLD RIVER, CALIF. | LAKE NATOMA | WCC CHAMPIONSHIPS
SPOKANE, Wash. – The Zags are pursuing their third-straight West Coast Conference Championship and 16th overall as they travel to Lake Natoma in Gold River, Calif. on Saturday for the 2017 West Coast Conference Championships. Since 1997, when the conference adopted the sport, the Zags have won 15 of the 20 WCC Championships, and advanced to the NCAA Championships in 2016, 2015, and 2013.
The Bulldogs won the title last year after tying with San Diego at 39 points overall, and taking the tiebreaker due to the Zags four-second win over USD in the varsity eight race. USD edged GU in the second varsity eight race by two seconds and by 10 seconds in the varsity four event. San Diego has four WCC Championships to their credit and Loyola Marymount has one. The seven teams competing include GU, USD, and LMU, along with Portland, Saint Mary’s, Santa Clara, and Creighton, a rowing-only member from Omaha, Neb. No teams in the WCC are ranked or receiving votes in the latest USRowing/CRCA Coaches Poll. In the latest varsity eight cMax Rankings, Gonzaga leads the way at number 25, San Diego is one spot back at 26, and Portland is next at 46.
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 varsity four race opens the day at 9:00 am, followed shortly by the second varsity eight race at 9:20 am. The main event, the varsity eight race, will determine any potential tiebreakers at 9:40 am PST.
The Zags have claimed the WCC Championship in every year of its existence except in 2014, 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2006, winning the first nine championships starting in 1997. The Zags top crew has been almost as successful, winning 14 varsity eight races, finishing only as low as runner-up in 2014, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2006, and 2004. The second varsity eight boat has 13 race victories, with their last coming in 2013. The Zags won 11-straight from 2000 to 2010, and have never finished lower than second place. The varsity four has won their race eight times, with the last coming in 2012, and they took four in a row from 2005-2008, with only one result in history other than first or second place.
The Bulldogs have rowed at Lake Natoma twice this season already. The Zags traveled five pairs boats to the Head of the American on October 29. Lauren English and Micailah Donner were the first Zags across the line at 21:03.4 in 15th place. Three spots back were Olivia Marsh and Lindey English at 21:08.1. Next across in 35th place was Charlotte Lepp and Casey Harder at 21:58.2 and Hannah Brown and Georgia Davey finished in 38th place with a time of 22:15.5. The final Zag pair of Caroline Maguire and Clare Manthey took 47th at 22:59.3. The race had a total of 55 participants with schools like USC, UCLA, Stanford, Cal, and Washington entered in the field.
GU returned this spring to the Lake Natoma Invitational on April 8 and 9. The varsity eight, second varsity eight, and varsity four competed in three three-team races each. The top crew finished only 10 seconds behind No. 10 Stanford in their first race and only five seconds behind No. 9 Brown for two runner-up finishes on the first day. The Zags beat (RV) Central Florida and Notre Dame on the second day. The second varsity eight finished runner-up in all three races against the same boats, and the varsity four had the same results as the top crew.
The Zags best overall performance in the WCC Championship came in 2013 when they scored 41 points, taking the varsity eight and second varsity eight races, and finishing second in the varsity four race. USD holds the record with 42 points after a three-race sweep in 2014. The fastest time recorded by the Zags varsity eight was in 2015, a first-place finish of 6:22.5, four seconds ahead of USD. The best second varsity eight time was last year at 6:42.8, less than two seconds behind winner USD. The fastest time for the varsity four was in 2015 at 7:27.2, again less than two seconds behind winner USD.
GU and USD first faced each other on October 29 this season in the pairs races at the Head of the American at Lake Natoma. The top GU boat finished 15th in the race, seven spots ahead of the top USD boat, as GU had a boat finish in 18th as well. The Bulldogs’ six boats had an average finish of 24th, while USD’s eight boats had an average of 37th place. The Gonzaga and Portland varsity eight boats faced off in the Head of the Lake on the Montlake Cut in Seattle on November 6, where the Zags beat the Pilots by one spot and by 31 seconds for a fifth-place finish. The second varsity eight boats also finished in the same order with the Zags being 23 seconds faster. The Zags varsity four boats finished second and fifth, both ahead of Portland who finished seventh.
“We are excited to race," Gonzaga head coach Glenn Putyrae said of the WCC Championships.
The All-WCC team will be announced at the awards ceremony immediately following the event. The All-WCC team will feature 17 student-athletes, and they will also announce the Rower of the Year, Coxswain of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, and Coach of the Year. The four major awards will be voted on solely by the seven head coaches.
Directions to Lake Natoma
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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