SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The 2013 West Coast Conference women's rowing preseason polls have been announced and Santa Clara University was well-represented, with Carina Brocato (Bellevue, Wash. / Newport HS) and Megan Alferness (Novato, Calif. / San Marin HS) named to the league's preseason all-conference team.
The season begins for Santa Clara on Sunday, March 3 with exhibition races at the UC Davis Invitational. The bulk of the competition schedule will commence on Saturday, April 13 at the Covered Bridge Regatta in Eugene, Ore. All boats have their sights set on the 2013 WCC Championships, which will be held in Sacramento, Calif. on Saturday, May 18.
"This weekend our exhibition will be a test run to check out early-season speed," said third-year Santa Clara head coach John Wojtkiewicz. "We will be using this regatta to get a preliminary sense of where we are and how far we have to go. Davis is an excellent club program and we appreciate them inviting us up and giving us a chance to test ourselves against one of the better club teams out there."
Wojtkiewicz, along with the other six head coaches in the league, tabbed Gonzaga University to win the 2013 WCC Women's Rowing Championship. The Bulldogs earned 34 points and four first place votes, while 2012 WCC Champion, the University of San Diego, followed closely behind with 31 points and three first place votes for the second place spot.
"This year we've focused on setting time goals rather than placement goals," Alferness said when asked how she thinks the Broncos will finish in May. "Last year we set a lot of placement goals and I think they were a little high. So this year we set a time that's just for us, better for us to gauge how we are doing and at the same time, we definitely expect to be competitive with other crews."
This preseason, Wojtkiewicz has had Alferness and Brocato rowing as the Varsity 8's stern pair. Adrienne Lohe (Scituate, Mass. / Notre Dame Academy) and Missy Giorgi (Cupertino, Calif. / St. Francis) have been named SCU's 2013 team co-captains.
"It's great to see Megan and Carina recognized among the preseason all-conference athletes," Wojtkiewicz said. "While the class of 2014 continues to demonstrate strong leadership and contributes greatly to our forward momentum, these two are distinguishing themselves as leaders. They do not miss a practice or a workout, and they continue to improve in every category."
The Broncos have been hard at work since returning to campus in early January. Early-morning practices on the water, weight lifting, aerobic conditioning are all part of the work load taken on by every member of the 2013 roster - a squad much bigger and experienced than in year's past.
"Last year everyone was pretty much a Novice or very new to rowing," says Brocato. "So last year was more like a building year. Now we're slowly getting up there (in speed). I think we're a lot better than last year, definitely. That's because at least half the team is experienced. Retention is important for us; it's about keeping the numbers up and making sure we have depth."
In January, the team started its competitive training cycles. Since then, each week has built on top of the other. Brocato says she is really looking forward to the team's spring break trip in late March to Sacramento. Along with allowing the chance for the team to bond and have fun, seat racing will be on the itinerary, which is aimed at intrasquad competition to gauge who will be in the Varsity 8 boat in April.
Brocato (left) and Alferness (right) are pictured above