This season’s end-of-the-year regatta was held once again on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, on April 27- 28. After 25+ years at that site, the facility has become what the International Olympic Committee has christened “the best rowing venue in the Western Hemisphere!” Some of you alums who rowed back when the race course was just “an idea,” would not recognize the place today. The site now has an Olympic buoy system, a pavilion at the finish line – constructed just for rowing races – and a starting line system that involves one, solid apparatus for starting all 7 lanes fairly. With more than 30 schools in attendance, the Aztecs’ 2012-2013 season of progress and renewal was tested in a most stringent way.
The Novice “B” 8 raced to a 4th place finish, unfortunately missing out on the Bronze medal by less than a length. The event was won my Orange Coast (“easily”), with UCSB taking the Silver, and UCLA taking that Bronze medal. The good news was that in the boat were 6 oarsmen with sub 7 minute ergometer scores and 4 men who just began rowing in January. This bodes very well for the future of Aztec rowing! Of more than 30 programs in the Western United States, we are only one of 9 that have kept a second boat out for the entire season. Then too, there are four more Aztec novices who, due to several injuries, did not race. Thus, the novice program finished the season with 2 8s and a 4+ of first year rowers. This crew was Coxed by McKenzie Melcher and stroked by Royce Cumming. The other members of the crew were Connor O’Gara (7), Alex Fraser (6), Marshall Kanute (5), Joe Matus (4), Stephen Lyons (3), and Oliver Callahan (2).
The Varsity 8 of course had been broken down into a 4+ for the last couple of races of the year. In their Heat in Sacramento on Saturday, they placed 4th.. Then, later on Saturday, they placed 4th again in the Petite Final. This put them in the 10th position for the regatta … out of 18 crews entered. Thus, they finished the season in almost exactly the middle of the Varsity 4+ pack at W.I.R.A. The very, very good news for the program is that there were no Seniors in this boat!
The Novice “A” boat had experienced a number of changes in the past several weeks. Brandt Watson was the new Stroke, exchanging seats with Kevin O’Mara. Ryan Williams – who only began rowing in the third week of January – was moved up to 6 from 4 (switching seats with Colon Byrne). And Joe Dodson was back in the crew at #3. In racing with the fastest crews that the West has to offer, they came in 4th in the Grand Final. A mere .9 seconds behind the Bronze winning crew from UCSB, and 4.5 seconds behind the Silver winning crew from Gonzaga (Orange Coast won by 7 seconds over Gonzaga), the Aztec yearlings placed higher than any crew in many years. And too, they solidified their position as the fastest “genuine novice” 8 (no high school experience whatsoever in the crew) in the West. This crew defeated 15 West Coast crews along the way this year … and turned in a time that was competitive with many Varsities at Natoma (6:17). This race solidified their position in the boathouse as the “Winningest Crew of 2013.”
Above: The Novice “A” boat in Sacramento … the Winningest crew of the 2013 season.
And then there was the performance of an Aztec crew that harkened back to the “glory years.” The Lightweight 8 raced in a three boat Final that included the same crews that had raced at the Newport Regatta a month before = Orange Coast, UCSB, and the Aztecs. Fighting off a furious charge from UCSB that lasted for the entire last 1,000 meters, the Aztecs earned West Coast bragging rights to lightweight supremacy with a victory margin of just over a boat length! Thus, this young Aztec crew (no Seniors in the boat) stepped into the footsteps of many of our crews of the past! This history making crew included Selysa Marshall at Cox, Blake Rhoades (Stroke), Matt Stewart (7 – a Freshman), Bernard Aparicio (6), Jacob Stauts (5 – a Novice), Randy Beltran (4), Mario Colon (3), Anthony Alaan (2), and Kameron Kennington (Bow).
Above: The 2013 SDSU Aztec Lightweight Varsity 8: Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Champions!
The Lightweight 8 had not even been contested the year before. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, there had been fields as large as 14 for the event. But partly due to the support of Orange Coast, partly due to the commitment of several coaches at other programs, and partly due to the success of our own Aztecs all year long, the future of lightweight rowing appears to be on the rise. Certainly, the SDSU Aztecs are preparing for such a resurgence!
Taken together, this was the finest over-all performance of an Aztec team in many a moon. Boding well for the future, the entire program has only one rower in it who is not eligible to return for the 2013- 2014 season! The proverbial “sky is the limit” for the Aztecs of the future!!!!!!!!!!