GOLD RIVER, Calif. — Santa Clara men's rowing has qualified for the IRA National Championship Regatta for the second straight season. The Bronco Varsity 8 boat produced a wire-to-wire victory at Saturday's Western Sprints Regatta in Lake Natoma.
The most senior Bronco crew posted a time of 6:08.6, edging second-place Oklahoma City (6:14.0) by 5.4 seconds. UC San Diego (6:14.2) finished third, Gonzaga (6:18.7) took fourth and San Diego (6:22.3) came in fifth.
"There was a lot of emphasis put on this race," head coach Jay Farwell said. "It started last fall when the guys arrived on campus. Every practice, every race was about our preparation for Western Sprints."
Santa Clara's Varsity 8 crew was composed of the same oarsmen that captured the program's first WIRA championship two weeks ago. The Western Sprints schedule features no heats; teams row in one race for their shot at IRAs.
"There is a significant amount of pressure to deal with but our guys handled that very well," Farwell said. "Coxswain Grace Anne D'Amico did a very good job of executing the race plan and keeping the guys in the moment and composed. This win is a tribute to their hard work and the hard work of the entire crew."
The Second Varsity 8 boat took finished in fourth place (of four boats) and the Third Varsity 8 crew finished in third place (of three boats). UC San Diego and Gonzaga finished first and second, respectively, in each of those races.
"Our 2nd V8 had a good race," Farwell said. "Comparing our results year over year, our 2nd V8 is closing the gap on these other crews, which is a positive we will take away from this race. Last year, we did not have a 3rd V8 so this just shows that we are building our numbers and building our overall depth."
The 2016 IRA National Championship Regatta will take place from June 3-5 at Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J. Last season, Santa Clara's Varsity 8 boat made IRAs for the first time in program history and was the first Bronco boat to race at the regatta since 2002.
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