ROWING MEDALS IN A PAIR OF RACES, FINISHES THIRD AT THE AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP

ROWING MEDALS IN A PAIR OF RACES, FINISHES THIRD AT THE AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP

SARASOTA, Fla. — Sacramento State took home bronze medals in both the varsity eight and third varsity four races, propelling the Hornets to a third place finish in the program's third-ever appearance at the American Athletic Conference Rowing Championship on Saturday morning at Nathan Benderson Park.

The Hornets joined the American Athletic Conference for rowing in 2015, and have placed third on a pair of occasions (2015, 2017) and fourth a year ago. A total of six race categories made up this year's American Championship. The Hornets raced in five of the categories, placing third in both the varsity eight and third varsity four, and sixth in the second varsity eight, varsity four and second varsity four.

The regatta consisted of seven schools, and crews had to battle tough racing conditions that included 20 mile per hour tailwinds and white caps. In fact, a number of crews from different teams caught crabs and diggers throughout the regatta, including the Hornets' second varsity four catching a boat-stopping crab at the 750 meter mark.

There were no time trials, just six grand finals in rapid succession beginning this morning at 8 a.m. PDT. The league determines the team champion based on finishes in all six finals with a heavy emphasis (based on points up for grabs) placed on the varsity eight race category.

With 217 points, Central Florida was crowned the American champions for the third straight year and will get the league's automatic qualifier into the NCAA Championship. Trailing Central Florida in the league standings were Tulsa (189), Sacramento State (119), San Diego State (119), UConn (118), Temple (90) and SMU (87). Sacramento State and San Diego State finished with the same amount of points, but the Hornets won the tiebreaker and placed third because of a stronger finish in the varsity eight race (Hornets were third, San Diego State fifth in the V8).

Sacramento State had three student-athletes on the all-American Athletic Conference team, including junior Elena Galvez named to the first team, and seniors Jill Modean and Melissa Pollard named to the second team. Modean is a two-time all-conference selection as she was named to the first team a year ago.

The Hornets' varsity eight picked a good day to post its fastest time of the season, as the crew raced to a third place time of 6:30.8, trailing only Central Florida (6:24.8) and Tulsa (6:27.2). Sacramento State finished ahead of SMU (6:31.9), San Diego State (6:33.1), UConn (6:36.9) and Temple (6:44.0). The Hornets' time of 6:30.8 eclipsed its previous season-best times of 6:32.77 at the WIRA Championships and 6:33.2 at the Sacramento State Invitational. The finish also matched its highest placing at the event during its three-year tenure in the American (the 2015 V8 also placed third).

In addition, Sacramento State finished two spots ahead of rival San Diego State, avenging three losses earlier in the season to the Aztecs in the varsity eight. Making the victory even sweeter is the Hornets entered today's race as the No. 4 seed, behind No. 3 seed San Diego State. The Hornets were using today's varsity eight lineup for just the second time this year, and freshman Masa Kupresanin, who sat at stroke, overcame flulike conditions to aggressively lead the boat to the bronze medal.

"There were some pretty rough racing conditions out there today but the racing was fair," Sacramento State head coach Mike Connors said. "We started the day well with the third varsity four medal and ended the day well with the varsity eight performance. Today's conditions were not something we are used to seeing and we had to adjust, and I was proud of everybody for doing so. Especially the varsity eight and third varsity four, who did a great job. We needed the varsity eight to medal in the final race of the regatta, and they really came through and saved the day."

In the third varsity four, the Hornets, who were seeded fifth, finished with a bronze medal winning time of 7:57.3, easily finishing ahead of fourth-place UConn (8:15.5) and fifth-place Temple (8:25.8) in the five boat field. Central Florida and Tulsa finished as the top two boats, respectively, in the race. Today's performance marked the Hornets' second consecutive bronze medal in the third varsity four race category.

In the second varsity eight, Central Florida raced to a winning time of 6:34.5, followed by Tulsa (6:40.0), UConn (6:41.1), San Diego State (6:46.7), Temple (6:53.0), Sacramento State (6:59.8) and SMU (7:09.9). This year marks the first time in the Hornets' three-year run at the American Championship the team's second varsity eight did not medal at the event.

The Hornets' varsity four also placed sixth with a time of 7:39.8, trailing first-place Central Florida (7:22.2), Tulsa (7:27.1), San Diego State (7:28.5), Temple (7:34.2) and UConn (7:37.1). Sacramento State's time was 23 seconds faster than seventh place SMU.

The Hornets' second varsity four's chances at a medal ended early in the race when the crew suffered a boat-stopping crab. The Hornets were seeded third in the race and had high hopes for a medal, but the crab spotted the other six crews in the race at least two boat lengths. Sacramento State finished with a sixth-place time of 8:13.9, trailing Central Florida, Tulsa, San Diego State, UConn and Temple, respectively. SMU placed seventh.

Today's regatta closed the 2017 season for Sacramento State.

SACRAMENTO STATE LINEUPS

VARSITY EIGHT
cox - Melissa Pollard, s - Masa Kupresanin, 7 - Claire Perez, 6 - Jill Modean, 5 - Elena Galvez 4 - Anne Smolenski, 3 - Jasmine Taylor, 2 - Bailey Greenslit, b - Carli Preston

SECOND VARSITY EIGHT
cox - Stuti Desai, s - Gabrielle Luebben, 7 - Erin Kothlow, 6 - Kristin Weinman, 5 - Sarah Buchter, 4 - Elizabeth Ditoiu, 3 - Lexi Haynes, 2 - Migle Griskelyte, b - Emily Zimmerman

VARSITY FOUR
cox - Paige Poulin, s - Kaylee Goff, 3 - Melissa Kepler, 2 - Natasha Bazzo, b - Vjollca Rexhepi

SECOND VARSITY FOUR
cox - Cassidy Bouchard, s - Chelscie Pacheco, 3 - Samantha Walker, 2 - Susana Contreras, b - Natalie Jacobs

THIRD VARSITY FOUR
cox - Mary Fishburn, s - Nadia Noguera, 3 - Cassandra Macias, 2 - Bailey Broker, b - Kelsey Rogers

FINAL POINTS STANDINGS
1. Central Florida - 217
2. Tulsa - 189
3. Sacramento State - 119
    San Diego State - 119
5. UConn - 118
6. Temple - 90
7. SMU - 87

*Sacramento State wins tiebreaker with San Diego State based on Varsity 8 finish

SACRAMENTO STATE RACE RESULTS

VARSITY EIGHT
1. Central Florida - 6:24.8
2. Tulsa - 6:27.2
3. Sacramento State - 6:30.8
4. SMU - 6:31.9
5. San Diego State - 6:33.1
6. UConn - 6:36.9
7. Temple - 6:44.0

SECOND VARSITY EIGHT
1. Central Florida - 6:34.5
2. Tulsa - 6:40.0
3. UConn - 6:41.1
4. San Diego State - 6:46.7
5. Temple - 6:53.0
6. Sacramento State - 6:59.8
7. SMU - 7:09.9

VARSITY FOUR
1. Central Florida - 7:22.2
2. Tulsa - 7:27.1
3. San Diego State - 7:28.5
4. Temple - 7:34.2
5. UConn - 7:37.1
6. Sacramento State - 7:39.8
7. SMU - 7:56.8

SECOND VARSITY FOUR
1. Central Florida - 7:39.6
2. Tulsa - 7:43.8
3. San Diego State - 7:50.1
4. UConn - 7:54.4
5. Temple - 8:09.3
6. Sacramento State - 8:13.9
7. SMU  8:14.9

THIRD VARSITY FOUR
1. Central Florida - 7:28.6
2. Tulsa - 7:46.0
3. Sacramento State - 7:57.3
4. UConn - 8:15.5
5. Temple - 8:25.8