Nov. 6, 2012
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. - They may be new to the University of San Diego campus, but the members of the Toreros' freshman eight know how to take care of business on the water when the opportunity presents itself. They did just that this past Sunday at the Newport Autumn Rowing Festival on Newport Harbor by winning their race and finishing ahead of perennial Pac-12 powers UCLA and USC as well as cross-town rival San Diego State.
The freshman eight highlighted the day of racing for USD in an event that annually brings together some of the top crews in California and the southwest. Calling the shots on that winning boat was coxswain Sarah White, who got a heavy dose of her first West Coast racing by coxing in three different races on the day.
A native of Acushnet, Mass., White was charged with guiding her squad through unfamiliar waters at NARF and at the Head of the Marina in Marina Del Rey, Calif. the day before, but it was a task she handled like a seasoned veteran.
"Being a coxswain from the East Coast, I had never raced on the West Coast," said White. "It is always a little nerve-racking having to race on a course that you have never been to, especially in a head race. Besides this, I also had never coxed a head race because my high school only had a varsity rowing team in the spring that did sprint races. These races were a great learning experience for me and the coaching staff and other coxswains helped me a lot by telling me what they knew about the courses."
The Toreros crossed the finish line five seconds ahead of second-place UCLA on Sunday. While the fall racing season isn't going to determine conference and national champions, the experience of going up against other top boats and performing well shows White and her fellow freshmen eight that USD rowing is only getting faster with each recruiting class head coach Kim Cupini brings in.
"As a boat we went into NARF knowing that the freshman boat had not beaten UCLA in a number of years," said White. "Having beat them the day before at Head of the Marina, we were ready to prove that that was no mistake and that we were the fastest freshman crew on the water. When we got the results we could not have been any happier that we'd done what we had gone there to do and been able to represent our program in the best way possible."
NARF was the Toreros' fourth race of the fall and they only have one more remaining with the San Diego Fall Classic coming up on Nov. 11 on Mission Bay before they start making the transition into spring sprint racing and the quest for USD's fourth consecutive West Coast Conference title. With what they've shown so far, the freshmen are proving that the key to a building a strong program is building off the foundation laid by the veterans that came before them.
"It is so exciting that my class has had a fast fall racing season because it shows us the potential that we have for spring racing," said White. "It was amazing to row up to the starting line at NARF knowing that all the freshman were ready to give 110% to support the legacy that the upperclassmen in the program have created."
Not to be overshadowed in Sunday's race action was USD's varsity eight, which put in a strong showing of their own by finishing in third place behind two UCLA boats.
The results tell the story- top to bottom, the Toreros are making their push to establish themselves as one of the prominent crews on the West Coast and they know that to get there takes a fresh crop of rowers hungry to go faster.