Following closely on SIRAs, the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association holds its Championship Regatta this weekend at Lake Natoma, CA. Based on the results from 2011, there are some clear front runners on the men's side for WIRAs, as well as some newcomers with a chance to make the Grands in the Varsity 8.
The favorites to win this year in the Varsity 8 are the Tritons from UCSD, likely by open water. Zach Johnson's boys have made steady improvements throughout the year (as we've discussed), and are coming off solid results from both Crew Classic and SIRAs -- they'll be looking to dominate this regatta and cap off a solid season on the West Coast as they prep for IRAs this June. Beyond that, there are a number of teams with the potential to make the Grands this year, all within a second or two of one another. Some squads that could find themselves in the hunt are UCLA, UCI, Orange Coast, UCD, Washington State, and Sacramento State (coached by UW alum Dustin Kraus).
In the 2V, UCSD will again enter as the favorite, having lost to Oregon State in their heat at Crew Classic by just 0.02 seconds, and having taken 2nd at SIRAs behind a very strong entry from UVA. The real race in this event will be for 2nd place, between the Gonzaga 2V and the 3V from UCSD, who took 2nd (behind their own A entry) in the 2V category at Newport Regatta (April 9th). The depth of Johnson's Triton program will be on display, and we expect both the UCSD entries in the 2V category to medal this weekend.
The Frosh race is going to be a barn burner between UCSD and Orange Coast, but we are picking UCSD to sweep this weekend, and make a statement about how far their program has come over the past few years. The Triton Frosh took home a silver medal from SIRAs, and will be looking to prove their speed against a quality crew from OCC. We expect to see Washington State and the University of San Diego fighting it out for the bronze. UCSB will field a quality entry as well.
Zach Johnson and UCSD are showing that they have made some major strides, and we may see them take down some of the more familiar IRA schools this June as they continue to improve. This weekend will be the next step in that process.