May 24, 2001
Gainesville, Ga. - The Washington women's varsity eight held off its west coast rival and the junior varsity eight provided the photo finish of the day as racing got under way at the NCAA Rowing Championships on Lake Lanier Thursday morning.
The Washington varsity eight advanced to the semi-final round by winning the first race of the day. The Huskies held off west coast rival Southern California, the only team to have defeated UW this season, to win its heat in a time of 6 minutes, 19.1 seconds, two seats ahead of the Trojan crew that put on a frantic final surge over the last 100 meters and crossed at 6:19.9.
The west coast schools, racing in a slight tailwind, separated themselves from the pack by the first 500 meters and it was a two-boat race all the way down, with neither crew gaining more than a boat length lead over the other on the 2,000-meter course. Washington jumped off the start but didn't get away from an equally quick start by USC. The Huskies had a slim, three seat lead at the halfway mark and maintained that margin with 700 meters to go. With 400 meters remaining, USC started charging and had its bow ball at UW's bow seat. The last 100 meters to the finish line saw the crews separated by no more than one or two seats, but Washington never lost its lead in the final push to cross first.
"It wasn't our best race but we had good points," said junior Mary Whipple, the Huskies' varsity coxswain. "Whenever USC got even, we stuck to our race plan. We made our moves work. It was a good lesson, a good race, in that respect."
Top-seeded Michigan won the second heat, by four seats over Syracuse as the two crews advanced while two-time defending champion and top-seeded Brown won the third heat by a length and one-half over Princeton. The remainder of the two semi-final heats will be determined by an afternoon repechage (second chance) heat.
The junior varsity race, that was held during a short morning rain shower, saw perennial powers Washington, Brown and Virginia square off in a heat race that provided grand final-type excitement. Washington was strong off the start and took three seats on Brown in the first 500 meters, while the Bears were one or two seats up on the Cavaliers. At 750 meters, it was Brown and Washington bow ball to bow ball with Virginia charging hard from half a length down. Brown went a deck up at the 850 mark with UW still holding a slim two or three seat lead on Virginia. The Cavaliers made their move shortly after that, passing the Huskies and moving even with the Brown. The final 200 meters saw Brown take its slim lead back, with Virginia, a seat up, and Washington waging a fierce battle. The Huskies surged up from behind on the final strokes of the race to finish second and secure its spot in the grand final. The stop watches told the tale of the race as Brown, winners of the gold medal in this event last year, crossed the finish line at 6:40.6, followed by Washington at 6:41.3 and Virginia at 6:41.6.
"All three crews were right together, all the way down the course," said Leslie Rattan, three seat in the Husky jayvee. "Less than a one-second margin for all three crews is pretty exciting. I couldn't even tell how it ended. My head was entirely in my boat, racing down the course on our way to the finish line."
"I have never had a race that close before," added sophomore Heidi Hurn, who rows in the five seat. "I don't even remember the last 20 strokes. I didn't know if we made it or not. It was out of control toward the end. We were moving like crazy and there was no distraction whatsoever. We were so focused. It was insane."
Michigan and Harvard advanced to the grand final as the top qualifiers out of the other junior varsity heat.
The varsity four, composed of all novice rowers and a junior class coxswain, also had a close heat race with Brown. The Huskies, who are two-time defending champions in the event, led most of the first 1,000 until Brown crept up and took a few seats at the halfway mark. Brown took a deck-length lead from the Huskies as the two crews separated themselves from the field. Entering the last 500 meters, Washington narrowed the gap on Brown, pulling from four seats down to three, while also holding a one-length lead over a charging Ohio State crew. The Bears crossed the line at 7:26.9, three seats ahead of the Huskies at 7:29.0. Ohio State was third at 7:31.7.
Michigan and Iowa advanced to the final our of the first varsity four heat.
Washington is aiming for its third NCAA team title. The Huskies won the inaugural NCAA Championship, when the sport first became sanctioned in 1997, and successfully defended its title in 1998. Brown University has won the last two team championships. The varsity eight will race in one of two semi-final heats Friday while the junior varsity eight and varsity four advanced directly to grand finals Saturday.
Semi-final heats will be posted following the Thursday afternoon repechage heats at 4 p.m. EST.
Race Schedule for Friday, May 25
11:00 a.m. Varsity Eight Semi-final 1
11:20 a.m. Varsity Eight Semi-final 2
NCAA Rowing Championships
Thursday, May 24, 2001
Lake Lanier (2,000-meters), Gainesville, Ga.
Varsity Eight (top 2 advance to semi-finals, all others to repechage)
Heat 1: 1, Washington 6:19.1. 2, Southern California 6:19.9. 3, Virginia 6:31.5. 4, Iowa 6:34.6. 5, Rutgers 6:39.7. 6, Ithaca 6:49.8. 7, Wesleyan 7:00.7.
Heat 2: 1, Michigan 6:28.1. 2, Syracuse 6:31.2. 3, California 6:34.7. 4, Boston U. 6:40.0. 5, Harvard 6:40.5. 6, Western Washington 7:06.5.
Heat 3: 1, Brown 6:26.8. 2, Princeton 6:31.7. 3, Yale 6:35.6. 4, Ohio State 6:36.2. 5, Michigan State 6:45.1. 6, Williams 7:03.1.
Second Varsity Eight (Junior Varsity) (top 2 advance directly to final, all others to repechage)
Heat 1: 1, Michigan 6:39.3. 2, Harvard 6:44.1. 3, Ohio State 6:44.9. 4, California 6:49.5. 5, Princeton 6:57.1.
Heat 2: 1, Brown 6:40.6. 2, Washington 6:41.3. 3, Virginia 6:41.6. 4, Iowa 6:56.1. 5, Boston U. 6:56.3.
Varsity Four (top 2 advance directly to final, all others to repechage)
Heat 1: 1, Michigan 7:31.3. 2, Iowa 7:33.0. 3, Virginia 7:38.6. 4, California 7:47.4. 5, Harvard 7:52.8.
Heat 2: 1, Brown 7:26.9. 2, Washington 7:29.0. 3, Ohio State 7:31.7. 4, Boston U. 7:40.9. 5, Princeton 7:41.2.