Fresh off a convincing win over Louisville and its first national ranking of the season, the No. 23 Lady Vol rowing team heads west this weekend to compete in the San Diego Crew Classic.
Tennessee's Varsity 8+ shell will row for the Jessop-Whittier Cup, the premier division at the regatta, which includes powerhouse programs Washington, California and USC.
"This is a really exciting race because we are able to travel to the West Coast and see some teams that we aren't normally able to see," Tennessee coach Lisa Glenn said. "Some of these West Coast teams are among the top teams in the country."
Tennessee sent its Varsity 8+ boat to California two years ago, but competed in a lower-level division of the Classic, placing second in the Cal Cup.
Glenn said last weekend's victory over Louisville, which will also send a boat to San Diego, provided a good tune-up for this weekend's competition.
"I thought we did a really nice job last weekend," Glenn said. "Our Varsity 8+ had some goals that they were working to meet relative to their own crew, not necessarily Louisville themselves, and they satisfied those."
The boat the Lady Vols will send to San Diego includes coxswain Lizzie Brown, Kaitlin Bargreen, Nicole Bold, Lauren Wells, Chelsea Pemberton, Dana Forbes, Kacey Montgomery, Melissa DiCerbo and Jessica Shreder. That shell includes four sophomores and a freshman - and only one senior.
Glenn said she is particularly excited to be heading to California with a national ranking in hand.
"Last year we were stronger than we had ever been, and I think we got one vote once during the spring," Glenn said. "People are starting to see that we're picking up a bit more speed."
The Varsity 8+ shell has improved in every race this spring, and Glenn said she is looking for her boat to continue to race faster against premier competition this weekend.
"Each race I've seen the opportunity for our team to progress," Glenn said, "and the Varsity 8+ has taken advantage of that each race, racing faster each weekend.
"The challenge now is just to continue that trend."