While many of their classmates routinely stay up until three or four in the morning, the UCSB men’s rowing team stuck to a much different routine, following strict diets and regularly waking up at 4 a.m. to prepare for races across the country.
The Gauchos, who are coached by Derek Updegraff and captained by seniors Steve DeGoede and Peter Johnson, initially put their focus this year on the Lightweight Eight, but midway through the season injuries forced the emphasis to be placed on the Lightweight Four. Required to keep all men in the boat under 160 pounds – with an average weight of 155 pounds – Santa Barbara traveled up and down the West Coast for regattas. Early season events for UCSB included Head of the Lake in Seattle, the San Diego Crew Classic and the National Club Championships in the Port of Los Angeles, with victories over crews such as the University of Puget Sound, Washington State, San Diego State, LMU and USC. Following the switch in emphasis, UCSB excelled at the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Invitational, taking home the silver medal and earning a reputation as the second fastest Lightweight Four on the West Coast.
Over the weekend of May 9 and 10, the Gauchos traveled to Philadelphia for the Dad Vail Regatta, which is the rowing National Championship. With over 100 schools in attendance, UCSB sent the Lightweight Four and Heavyweight Pair teams to compete. The Heavyweight Pair of seniors Julio Lopez and Nick Judy won their first heat by 20 seconds to advance to the semifinals, where they would finish in fourth place.
Seniors Johnson, Alexis Irion, Hunter Hodges, Donovan Childers and John Adams made up the Lightweight Four boat that finished third out of 33 competing crews, taking home the bronze medal. Santa Barbara finished in a time of 6:33.765, just a couple of seconds behind Brock University and seven seconds behind champion Mercyhurst College.
“A Dad Vail medal has been a goal for our team, especially those who have rowed for four years,” DeGoede said. “The last time the rowing team medaled was in 2005 in the [Lightweight Four event]. Given it was everyone’s last year rowing, our goal was finally accomplished with the bronze medal.”
After the men’s success at Nationals, the women’s rowing team will finish its season with the ACRA Club Championships in Oklahoma City on May 24 and 25.