USC continues winning ways with final-day surge

The No. 1-ranked USC women’s rowing team capped off another successful weekend up in Gold River, Calif., winning yet another team championship at the 2013 Lake Natoma Invitational on Sunday.

Leading the pack · The No. 1-ranked USC women’s rowing team boasts two first-place finishes in 2013 as it nears closer to the postseason. - Courtesty of Dan Avila

Leading the pack · The No. 1-ranked USC women’s rowing team boasts two first-place finishes in 2013 as it nears closer to the postseason. – Courtesty of Dan Avila

The Women of Troy proved victorious in the varsity eight event and finished second in both the varsity four boats and the second varsity eight.

“This was a very good regatta for us,” USC head coach Zenon Babraj told “It was a good experience and especially difficult because it was after a couple of big wins in San Diego. We beat the No. 2 crew in the country today. We had a good Saturday and won all our races, but the main races were today when we raced Cal and Stanford in the finals.”

On the final day of races, USC was tested on the 2,000-meter course by two of the top teams in the nation, taking on No. 2-ranked California followed by No. 9-ranked Stanford.

In its first race of the day, USC’s varsity four squad, coxed by sophomore Paige Fernandes, logged in a time of 7:20:00, which was good enough for second place behind Cal’s  time of 7:16:10, 3.90 seconds faster than the Trojans.

The foursome, stroked by freshmen Kamali Houston and Darian DiCianno along with juniors Kajsa Olsson and Eglit Vosu, came in 2.20 seconds ahead of the Stanford four in order to capture that second-place spot.

“The four did a very good job. Cal didn’t race its four down in San Diego at the Crew Classic. They are ranked really high and some people think that they are the fastest four in the country,” Babraj told           “We did well, though, with some fight. Our four was only four seconds behind so that’s very promising.”

In the day’s closest race, USC’s second varsity eight battled Cal’s boat for the entire 2,000 meters, but sophomore starboard Elizabeth Turner and the Trojan bow ball crossed the line just 1.90 seconds after the Golden Bears (6:31:30). Both teams handedly beat the Cardinal, who came in at a time of 6:46:40.

“We had a good race, but the young boat with a freshman stroke struggled a little bit in the middle of the race,” Babraj told                                                 “The fight lasted the entire 2,000 meters. With four weeks to go before the Pac-12 championships, there’s still some work to do, and we can field a second varsity eight that can be even more competitive.”

Determined to overcome two second-place finishes, the Trojan boat strived to come out on top in the day’s main event, the first varsity eight. Coxed by Jennah Blau and with junior All-American Vineta Moca at stroke, the USC boat trailed early to both Cal and Stanford through 500 meters, but made its move across the halfway mark to take the lead.

The Women of Troy held their water the rest of the way to capture the win in a time of 6:20:40 and remain undefeated in 2013. Cal finished 3.6 seconds slower at 6:24:00 and staved off Stanford, who came in at 6:25:90.

“This was a good experience,” Babraj told “It’s something that gives us good information on what we need to work on and what we need to do. This was a very important race for the first eight and they gave a great performance. Everybody was prepared for them, but they were ready and came out on top. That was great for the entire team.”

In the final team standings, Cal finished second behind USC with Stanford and No. 12 Notre Dame tying for third.

USC will have a break from racing next weekend, as it prepares to take on crosstown rival UCLA in their annual dual on May 4 in Marina Del Rey, Calif.