UC Irvine men’s rowing at ACRA this weekend | New university
The UCI men’s rowing team geared up for postseason competition as they prepared to compete in the American Collegiate Rowing Championships from Friday, May 20 through Sunday, May 22 in Oak Ridge, Tenn Association (ACRA).
ACRA championships are divided into two categories: novice and varsity.
Irvine’s Varsity Men’s Crew has high expectations for this regatta. Currently ranked second in the ACRA Coaches Poll, they will compete for gold against other contenders such as George Washington University, Michigan and UCLA.
After a disappointing silver medal win at the WIRA Championships, the Anteaters still have a serious shot at capturing the national title.
On a more personal level, this is the culmination of years of work and waiting. This crew survived the ravages of COVID and this is their first and last chance to win it all.
For six of the eight crew members, this will be their last championship series as anteaters.
Victory high in the Smoky Mountains would send this high-ranking crew off on a high note, leaving their legacy in the care of newer hands.
Newer hands were a lot less impressive than their older counterparts.
Wrecked by illness and injury, the rookie crew struggled to come up with consistent race lineups and recently had a poor performance at WIRA Championships, finishing ninth out of 13 crews.
Novice eight three-seat freshman Ian Wetherbee and light four freshman Edward Biddlecomb have respectively fallen ill with a dislocated shoulder and non-Covid illness.
Additionally, two-seat freshman Garret Jones and three-seat Ethan Nghiem were unable to travel, leaving junior Adrian Avilla on two seats and sophomore Thadiel Zancoli on three seats in the novice lightweight foursome.
Despite these difficulties, the Anteaters are used to leveling up and the Rookie Eight will be competing with their brand new lineup.
“For someone who joined the team later in the year, he took the initiative and worked hard,” Jones said. “He gets on the boat and wants to support everyone.”
Replacing Wetherbee on three seats is popular teammate newcomer Hayden Sitko. The new bat of novice eight Sahil Desai had only glowing words for Sitko.
“He’s done well under the pressure of the A-Boat so close to the national teams and put in the extra work to row with us, we really can’t do without him,” Desai said.
Despite the turbulence, the boat are hoping that consistency in the race will see them set a fast time and face some serious competition.
The light four, which took third place at WIRA, is going into the ACRA championships with a new look.
The absence of Jones and Nghiem is leaving the boat in uncertain circumstances, trying to build that winning bond with new members and limited time. Add to that the fact that their leader, Biddlecomb, has been sidelined and their fight seems to be going uphill.
Still, they hope to carry the momentum from WIRA and remain competitive in their category and hopefully win another medal to match their Sacramento Bronze.
The competition ran from Friday May 20th through Sunday May 22nd and can be viewed here or in person at Oak Ridge.