The 2012 WIRA Championships are in the books, and it's time to take a look at how our picks and predictions turned out following the racing on Lake Natoma last weekend. The story of the regatta was the team from Gonzaga on both the men's and women's sides, as the Bulldogs medaled in no less than seven events, winning gold in five. Orange Coast College also performed very well, taking first place in three events with a very small squad. Let's take a look, shall we?
Paul Prioleau's OCC Pirates got the better of the field in the men's varsity club eight, as we predicted, in a time of 6:02.6, roughly 1.5 seconds ahead of UCSB (another crew we picked to make a podium appearance). UCLA, our pick for second, faded to fourth behind UCI. In the men's varsity eight, our pick for first place, UCSD, did not show the same speed as earlier in the season at Crew Classic (when they got the better of Gonzaga), and found themselves in third place in a five-boat final, behind the first place Zags (who rowed away from the field to a 7.9 second victory in 5:57.6) and a crew from USD that did not reach the grand final of the men's Cal Cup in San Diego–evidently the Toreros were able to find another gear. With the victory, Gonzaga has qualified for the IRA National Championships, as have the USD Toreros, by finishing in the top two.
The result was even more puzzling given the times from the men's junior varsity event, which saw the Tritons of UCSD win (as we predicted) in a time of 6:04.6–nearly 3.5 seconds faster than the UCSD varsity eight would post less than an hour later. Gonzaga and UCSB (in that order) rounded out the medals in the men's junior varsity eight, also as predicted.
The men's frosh eight event saw another OCC victory (again as predicted), fighting off a strong challenge from Gonzaga in the final 500m to cross the line roughly one length ahead of the Bulldogs, while our prediction for third, UCSD, faded to fourth, and UCLA earned a spot on the podium.
In the women's varsity eight DI event, the Zags, our predicted winners, again emerged victorious, taking gold ahead of Saint Mary's College and Sac State, with our pick for second place, Stanford Lightweights, fading to fourth in a close field. The results for SMC showed that the program is building, with all entries reaching the grand finals, and two crews earning medals (silver in the varsity eight and bronze in the varsity four). It was Gonzaga's day, however, as the women won every event they entered, taking the pennants in the 1V8, 2V8, F/N8, and V4.
In the women's varsity DII/DIII event, the Vikings of Western Washington were indeed able to reverse the result from a week earlier at the Northwest Conference Rowing Championships, winning the varsity eight by roughly three seconds over the Jacks of Humboldt State. The Vikings also won the DII/DIII second varsity eight, as predicted. The Jacks and Vikings will face off again at the NCAA Championships, where the Vikings will enter the fray as defending champions, having won the DII title seven times in the 10 year history of the event.