California State University, Long Beach

LBS Rowing Demonstrates Determination at NICRC

Sunday, 9. November 2014

Photo provided by Sydney Abad

LBS Rowing varsity women finished third out of eight in their heat, improving by 50 seconds since last year.


By Ariana Gastelum

Publicity Manager

Varsity Rower

Long Beach State Rowing’s effort to become increasingly competitive against opposing teams was shown at the first Naples Island Collegiate Rowing Challenge (NICRC) at Marine Stadium in Long Beach, Calif. on Nov. 1 and 2.

Saturday races were made up of a series 850-meter sprints for the alumni and novices. They began at the boathouse and finished at the end of Marine Stadium.

Winners of these sprints were not recorded. Although LBS Rowing’s novices have been rowing for a couple months now, they were competing against other teams that had been rowing for either just as long or for only a few weeks. Some of the other schools raced with only six rowers at a time, and others rowed with squared blades.

Men’s rowing teams from Arizona State University (ASU), Chapman University, Loyola Marymount University (LMU), Orange Coast College (OCC), University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and University of Southern California (USC) competed in the novice races against Long Beach.

“The sprints were fun, and I really feel like it was easier to push myself because you are right next to your competition, and you can tell when you are losing,” men’s novice rower Wendel Kuhn said. “What I believe is really important is having that first race down because I know what to expect and know how our entire boat performs under that pressure.”

Teams from ASU, Chapman University, LMU, OCC and University of California Irvine (UCI) raced in the women’s sprints.

On Sunday, varsity and novice teams raced a 4,000-meter course around Naples Island.

“NICRC felt like home turf, and especially with our local rivals, we tried our best to see where we place among them,” varsity rower Sydney Abad said.

The women’s team raced one varsity eight and two varsity fours. The varsity eight finished third out of eight behind University of California Santa Barbara’s (UCSB) A-boat and OCC’s A-boat with a time of 16 minutes and 50.28 seconds.

Last year, varsity finished fifth, 1 minute and 22 seconds behind UCSB, who finished last year as well with a similar time, according to women’s head coach Ian Simpson. Since then, the women’s varsity team has improved by 50 seconds.

“The varsity performance would have been good enough for second place in last year’s race,” Simpson said. “However, Orange Coast College also had a very good performance, improving by 40 seconds over last year, good enough to keep them 15 seconds ahead of varsity…However, I have no doubt that our varsity will close the gap and eventually pass OCC in the spring.”

The men’s team competed one varsity eight and two novice eights. Varsity finished fifth out of eight with a time of 14 minutes and 39.74 seconds, finishing 10 seconds before UCLA’s B-boat and also before USC’s B-boat and ASU.

“Head of the American line up was a little bit different and more advance than the Naples Island line up,” men’s head coach Rob Edwards said. “But the Naples Island line up did well for themselves…They’re just going to get better and better throughout the season.”

This year’s varsity team had enough for two competitive eights, the team lost four varsity members just after Head of the American.

“I only had one boat last year, and now I only have one boat and a half, but I started with two,” Edwards said. “It’s nice to have the ability to change up people if I have to…It builds a little bit more competition and a little bit more competitive edge.”

The varsity team also practices in the evening on their own three times a week, and it has shown in practice, according to Edwards.

“They are getting much better with their ratio, and they’re getting much better with their overall strength,” he said. “This is one of the strongest crews I’ve ever had physically.”

For official results, visit


LBS Rowing Starts Off Strong at Head of the American

Sunday, 2. November 2014

Photo provided by Stefano Balbusso

The varsity eight B-boat included (left to right) Evan Mauno, Evan Wright, Orlando Alfaro, Andrew Nicastro, Stefano Balbusso, Mark Saavedra, Matthew Maliglig and coxswain Sarah Hui.


By Ariana Gastelum

Publicity Manager

Varsity Rower

Long Beach State Rowing finished their first regatta of the season at Head of the American (HoA) in Sacramento, Calif. on October 25. The novices, comprised of about 40 members, officially raced 5,000 meters for the first time ever, battling wind and rain throughout.

“With rowing, there’s a lot of responsibility put on the rowers,” women’s novice coach Megan Smith said. “Like, I can’t get out there to the starting line or make sure they’re doing the right warm-up. So, I put a lot of trust on them when they shove off the beach, and I just wave goodbye. I think they did a really good job. The overall goal of having a fun time and getting their feet wet was accomplished.”

This is Smith’s first year of coaching, though training with the development squad for the national team gave her the experience she needed to teach the novice rowers.

“I helped them adjust to national training, and I had to learn how to overcome my own struggles,” she said. “When you’re doing a lot of self-coaching, you have to examine ways to break down the stroke – break down the training – in order to explain it to yourself…But I have also learned a lot in the two months I’ve been doing it.”

Two women’s novice boats competed at HoA. The novice-A boat finished fourth out of 13 behind Stanford University, San Diego State University (SDSU) and Sacramento State University with a time of 21 minutes and 13 seconds, only four seconds slower than Sacramento.

The novice B-boat finished seventh with a time of 22 minutes and 55 seconds. They were two seconds ahead of Sacramento’s B-boat and over one minute ahead of University of Saint Mary’s B-boat.

Women’s head coach Ian Simpson describes Smith to be helpful and proactive towards the novices. When asked how he feels working with her, he answered, “It is terrible. She keeps on making suggestions that improves the training experience for the entire team, and she insists on helping the students become better athletes through attention to how they pace themselves, how they train and how they row.”

Men’s novice coach Jonathan Flietstra is now coaching for his second year, and he says he now feels more comfortable as a coach having gone through both seasons the year before.

“Just like my novice rowers, I was truly a ‘novice’ coach last year,” he said. “But just like my rowers from last year came back and are now on varsity, I also feel as if that novice year of coaching is behind me. That is not to say I’m done learning, but there are just some unique things about your novice year, both rowing and coaching.”

The men’s novice eight A-boat tied for sixth place with University of California Berkeley Lightweight Crew with a time of 19 minutes and 49 seconds. They were 16 seconds ahead of Humboldt State, who finished after.

Men’s novice eight B-boat ended in twelfth place out of 14, beating both UC Davis novice A and B boats and only seven seconds behind Sacramento’s novice A-boat.

“I told my guys to go out there and have a set boat over everything else,” Flietstra said. (A set boat is when blades on both starboard and port side are off the water during the recovery, and the boat is balanced.) “For the most part, the boats finished right about where I expected them to finish.”

Since last year, the women’s varsity team has improved significantly. They were the second fastest among the other club teams, finishing two seconds behind University of California Davis and 10 seconds behind Saint Mary’s.

The varsity eight finished in twentieth out of 25 with a time of 20 minutes and 11 seconds. Since HoA 2013, they’ve improved by 65 seconds.

“It is a very different team to last year,” Simpson said. “The returning varsity group of experienced rowers is larger and their collective knowledge and desire is more focused…The a greater focus on goals has the team healthier and in better condition than last year, which means we can train smarter.”

The women’s open four, which consisted of two novice rowers: Emily Seierson and Diana Mejia, two varsity rowers: Jayne Goodwin and Reid Atkins, and novice coxswain Silbia Ochoa, finished as the second-fastest club-boat with a time of 24 minutes and 8 seconds, only behind Chico State, and ahead of Berkeley’s Lightweight Crew, Maritime Rowing Club, Mills College A and B boats and Sonoma State Univeristy.

“There is a great vibe about the team this year,” Simpson added. “The entire group is way ahead of where it was at this time last year. I look forward to continuing the improvement and seeing where it takes us in the rapidly-approaching spring-racing season.”

For official results, visit

Long Beach Finishes Season With Silver and Bronze Medals at WIRA

Tuesday, 6. May 2014


By Ariana Gastelum

Women’s Varsity Member

Contributing Writer

After a competitive season, the Long Beach State Rowing Team walked away from the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association (WIRA) Championship Regatta with a set of medals from both teams: silver for the women’s novice four and bronze for the men’s lightweight four.

WIRA took place at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center in Sacramento, Calif. on April 26 and 27.

In addition, five of the eight boats that competed in the 2,000-meter races qualified into the grand finals. This included the women’s varsity four, novice four and lightweight four as well as the men’s varsity four and novice lightweight four.

The women’s novice four consisted of Alexandra Savage, Sydney Abad, Sam McFeely, Cecilia Guerrero and coxswain Sheila Robles.

On Saturday, they finished first in their heat against San Diego State University (SDSU), Arizona State University (ASU), Lewis and Clark College (L&C) and Chapman University with a time of 8 minutes and 6.8 seconds.

They finished second in the grand finals on Sunday behind Portland State with a time of 8 minutes and 15.1 seconds. SDSU came in eight seconds later, followed by Saint Mary’s College, University of California Irvine (UCI) and University of California Berkeley’s California Lightweight Crew.

“There are some very good athletes in the novice group who very early got a feel for how much fun the sport can be with some hard work and determination,” women’s coach Ian Simpson said. “The novice group performed well all year, from being undefeated at the [Head Race 1,000-meter sprints] through a couple of good races at the San Diego Crew Classic, the great performance at the Chapman Invitational and the culminating at WIRA.”

The lightweight men, which consisted of Trevor Brand, Greg Yotsov, Matthew Maliglig, Christopher Booth and coxswain Brittni Finley earned bronze medals at grands.

They came in third behind University of Santa Barbara (UCSB) and Loyola Marymount University (LMU), beating another UCSB boat, Santa Clara University and Pacific Lutheran University (PLU).

The lightweight boat practiced together for two weeks before WIRA, according to Yotsov. Brand has only been rowing since January.

“The four of us were all determined to do well in our final race, and this drive made us practice harder to achieve our goal,” Yotsov said. “I don’t have any regrets from our race; believe it or not. I could say we could have had better technique or could have spent more time working out, but I know each person in my boat put their full effort, and as long as I know that they each did the best they could do…I am happy.”

Men’s novice coach Jonathan Flietstra said that he was confident the lightweight men would perform well if every one of them qualified to race.

“The first thing they did well was weigh 160 pounds!” he noted. “I knew that after they weighed in and met those qualifications, that they would have a pretty good chance at getting a medal.”

As for the novice four, the main focus in practice was to increase their speed through improving on their rowing technique.

“A lot of our guys, at their size and weight, are about maxing out on what they could realistically pull right now,” he said. “Trying to get physically stronger in less than a week is almost impossible. But getting technically faster is very possible.”

The men’s novice four, which consisted of Taylor Berukoff, Evan Wright, Steven DesBiens, Mark Saavedra and coxswain Eric Oates, finished fourth behind Western Washington University (WWU), L&C and Sacramento State University with a time of 7 minutes and 42 seconds.

They finished before ASU by 1.5 seconds, followed by Oregon State University and SDSU.

“These novice men have an excellent opportunity to continue to build the program and create and be a part of a very competitive varsity team,” Flietstra said. “They also need to begin thinking about recruiting and building their team…not only for next year, but for two years down the road.”

The men’s varsity four, which included Jake Skoll, Jacob Bledsoe, Grey Mouser, Patrick Tilley and coxswain Kaitlyn Gold, came in fourth behind LMU, SCU and SDSU at the grand finals with a time of 6 minutes and 56.69 seconds. They managed to beat Seattle Pacific University (SPU) by one second, followed by L&C.

“The four did well,” Tilley said. “Looking back on it, we went as fast as we were going to go — given what we had on Sunday. It was our best race of the season in my opinion.”

The women’s varsity four consisted of Maria Guardiola, Kelsey Davis, Rikki Oden, Ariana Gastelum and coxswain Lauren Felske.

On Saturday’s heat, they finished second behind WWU with a time of 8 minutes and 4.1 seconds, before Orange Coast College (OCC) by one second, UCI by two seconds, PLU and UCSB.

In the grand finals, they came in sixth place behind WWU, Humboldt State University, UCSD and OCC with a time of 8 minutes and 5.1 seconds, only about half a second after SPU.

“I think we raced hard on Saturday, and it’s hard to repeat that,” Davis said during a team meeting. “It was really competitive right from the start, and really any one mistake we made would have been a seat lost.”

Next year, first-year women’s assistant coach Tamar Schaap will be studying abroad and will no longer be available to coach the women’s team.

“I now feel really guilty for leaving after the year, since finding coaches was an issue at first,” she said. “But partly due to personal life…I saw that I wanted to go to school again, and coaching — especially novices — made me think about training for myself again.”

Overall, Simpson noted that the team raced to the best of their ability at the given time and hopes the new varsity group is large enough, and experienced enough, to start where they left off, with a good attitude and a successful year.

“With a strong team, we can set our sights on performing well at the San Diego Crew Classic, having a varsity eight in the grand final and/or a four challenging for the top spot,” he said. “With a strong team, we can focus on strong performances at WIRA.”

For official results, visit