Orange Coast College, Chapman, USC, UCLA, UCI, UCSB, USD, Long Beach State, and SDSU
The best regatta of the season (to date) for the Aztecs occurred at the gathering of Southern California powerhouses in Newport = the 40th Annual Newport Regatta. Not only did the First Novice 8 continue on with its amazing season by defeating every crew save the defending National Champions from Orange Coast. The Lightweight Varsity 8 “arrived on the scene” with their first cup victory in years. And too, the Varsity 4 began to show that it had an excellent second half of the season in its sights. Taken together with a solid performance by the Second Novice 8, San Diego State’s Aztec crews were the third fastest group at the regatta … being bested as a team only by Orange Coast and UCSB. Once again, for the first time in quite a while, the Aztec Men’s Crew was in the hunt for a team points trophy!
The day began with the Second Novice 8 racing amidst a field of six boats. As expected, the race was won by the hosts from Orange Coast. They were chased by Irvine and UCSB. Our Aztecs came in fourth, followed by USC (defeating USC has now become a weekly habit for these yearlings) and by UCLA. While the crew was disappointed in not finishing higher, they nevertheless defeated another second boat … and it was a crew from UCLA, a team not defeated for some time.
The First Novice 8 then raced to a second place finish, being bested only by the Pirates of Orange Coast. The Aztecs defeated several crews that they had bested before = UCI, USC, and UCSB. But then they also defeated UCLA and USD for the first time. This was a fine result, fitting in well with the rest of this crew’s excellent season. But there was more to come from the Aztecs.
First, the Varsity 4 came in a close second to UCSB in a six boat race. This crew, taken out of the Varsity 8 that was not having the best of seasons to be sure, our 4+ defeated Orange Coast, UCLA, Long Beach State, and Chapman along the way to their surprise finish!
And then, the icing on the cake occurred when the San Diego State Aztec Lightweight Varsity 8 nipped a hard charging 8 from Orange Coast to win their event. This Cup victory was the first of its kind in several years. Then too, it was the first victory in the Lightweight 8 at Newport for an Aztec crew in almost 30 years! Also defeating UCSB, the Aztec Lights took the first shirts from Orange Coast in “as long as anybody can remember!” (Actually, some alums at the racecourse added it up … and they believe that it has been almost 20 years since we took a Coast shirt!)
An interesting story was added to the Lightweight event. It had not been a part of the Newport Regatta for some years, and was only being added back this season because of the interest of SDSU and UCSB and due to the fact that Orange Coast has begun racing at the lightweight level. There was a cup for the race, but the organizers of the Regatta did not know that. Our Assistant Coach Scott Dillard – who himself had rowed in an Aztec crew that captured this cup 30 years before – insisted to the officials that there was a cup. Orange Coast Coach Paul Prioleau was nice enough to take Scott to their office where … lo and behold … the cup was found! While accepting the cup was a wonderful moment for the Lightweight 8, nobody knew that it would be followed by another, even more prestigious cup later in the season.
In the end, only UCSB and Orange Coast College fielded more powerful over-all programs than the Aztecs. While there is some work to be done across the field for our program, there was a hint in the air at Newport that SDSU Men’s Crew is headed in the right direction. We are moving back toward the days when our crews were the “hated and feared” Aztecs – known for taking away not just shirts, individual medals, and single event racing cups … but team points trophies wherever they went!