Coach Lisa Glenn
April 17, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The University of Tennessee women's rowing team will return to the site of the 2008 NCAA Championships for the first Lake Natoma Invitational this weekend in Rancho Cordova, Calif. The regatta, hosted by Sacramento State and Cal, will feature nine teams, including three which competed at last year's national championships.
The Lady Vols will be looking to make a statement against a strong field of competitors this weekend which includes 2008 varsity eight runner-up Stanford and a Minnesota team that took three races from the Orange and White to open the 2009 season. UT is coming off back-to-back sweeps last weekend in Charlottesville, Va., where Clemson and Virginia both claimed four victories in two dual meets on Lake Monticello. After falling from the USRowing/Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association top-20 rankings for the first time this season, Tennessee will be seeking a win over one of the five ranked varsity eight shells in the field this weekend.
The event will feature an NCAA-style points structure in which teams will accrue points on Saturday during two racing sessions. Placement into event finals on Sunday will be determined by Saturday's point totals. Three heats of each varsity event - first eight, second eight and four - will be run in both the morning and afternoon sessions on Saturday. Sunday's schedule will consist of three finals (A, B, C) for each event, with the top three teams from Saturday competing in the A final, the fourth through sixth teams in the B final and the remaining three teams in the C final.
The Orange and White will open the day in the first heat of the varsity four, competing against Cal and UCF. Following the other two V4+ heats, the Lady Vols, Golden Bears and Knights will meet again for the second eight. The last heats of the morning session will feature the varsity eight, where UT will meet UCF and Cal's third-ranked shell.
In the afternoon, the Orange and White is matched up in each event with co-host Sacramento State and Wisconsin. The varsity four will kick things off again, followed by the second eights and the first eights, featuring the Badgers' 16th-ranked boat.
The event is set to get underway on Saturday morning with the first heat of the varsity four beginning at 8:20 a.m. PDT. Live, unofficial results will be available throughout the event at jamcotimes.com.
SURVEYING THE FIELD
The field for the first ever Lake Natoma Invitational is one of the most competitive outside of the NCAA Championships. With five of the nine teams at the event boasting a top-20 varsity eight shell and some of the top teams from the West, South and Central regions competing, the event could be a good preview for this year's championships.
Stanford (No. 2), Cal (No. 3), Wisconsin (No. 16), UCLA (No. 19) and Minnesota (No. 20) all bring varsity eight shells ranked in the USRowing/CRCA polls into the event, while Tennessee spent the first four weeks of the season in the top-20 listing.
Four of the squads will return to Lake Natoma after competing in the NCAA Championships there last year, including Stanford, Cal, Wisconsin and Tennessee. The Cardinal was an at-large selection but finished second in the first eights in 2008, while the Golden Bears reached the grand finals in each of the three events, finishing third in the team competition. The Lady Vols will make their first trip to California since reaching their first grand final in program history in the second eight, taking fifth to record their best event finish ever.
UCF, Texas, Minnesota, Sacramento State and UCLA are no slouches either. The Longhorns and Knights finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the South Region at the 2008 Aramark Sprints, while the Golden Gophers took sixth in the Central Region at the event. Meanwhile, UCLA claimed two wins in three varsity eight races at the 2009 Pac-10 Challenge in March and Sacramento State took second in the varsity eight grand final at the San Diego Crew Classic on April 5.