May 28, 2006
WEST WINDSOR, N.J. - Washington continued its perfect streak of top-10 results, finishing seventh in the team standings Sunday during the final day of the NCAA Women's Rowing Championships at Mercer Lake.
The Huskies were the third-place finishers in the varsity eight petite final, the equivalent of ninth overall. The UW second varsity was the petite final runner-up, the eighth-place crew overall. UW's best result came in the varsity fours as they finished fifth in the grand final.
Washington is one of only three schools that have finished among the top-10 in the team competition every year since the NCAA began sponsoring women's rowing in 1997. Brown and Princeton are the other teams in that elite group that lost one of its members when Virginia did not qualify for this year's regatta.
"It's huge. Every year it gets harder and harder to make it to this elite 12, if you will," said third-year UW coach Eleanor McElvaine. "We're really happy to be one of the few that is continually here. It's our goal to keep it going."
Top-ranked Princeton easily won the varsity eight race, crossing the finish line over six seconds ahead of runner-up California. Second-place was where the drama occurred as the Golden Bears edged third-place Brown by .26-seconds to clinch their second straight team title. Cal and Brown each amassed 66 points, with the tiebreaker going to the team with the better result in the varsity eight race.
It marked only the second time in the 10-year history of NCAA rowing that the team champion did not also win the featured race. Washington was the varsity eight champion in 2002, but Brown claimed the team title.
The Golden Bears are just the third squad to win multiple NCAA team titles. Brown topped the team standings four times (2004, 2002, 2000, 1999) and Washington is a three-time champion (1997, 1998, 2001).
The team champion was determined by a combination of results from each of the three events. Brown, California, Ohio State and Washington State were the only schools to qualify a crew for all three grand final races. No team has won the NCAA team championship without an entry in every grand final.
Princeton placed third in the team totals with 56 points followed by Washington State in fourth (52), Ohio State in fifth (52) and Michigan State in sixth (40). Washington's seventh-place total was 33 points, followed by Wisconsin (28), Notre Dame (22), Yale (21), Stanford (11) and Tennessee (11).
"Seventh is an improvement over last year's ninth place, so we're really happy about that," McElvaine said. "It's one of those things where slowly as a team you have to turn the corner and get things headed back in the right direction. We have a lot of young kids here and a lot of them aren't happy. They're not totally satisfied with seventh and that's a good thing."
Only six of the 23 athletes that competed for UW at the championships were seniors. The youth movement is especially prominent in the varsity four. Freshman coxswain Sofia Benson-Goldberg (Seattle, Wash./Forest Ridge) directs two sophomore and two junior rowers in that crew. Junior Asiha Grigsby (Graham, Wash./Spanaway Lake) was the only one of the five crew members with previous NCAA championships experience.
The Huskies' four-oared crew trailed the field after 500 meters before settling into a good rhythm that drew them ahead of Michigan State by the midway mark. That is where they finished, covering the 2,000-meter course in 7-minutes, 49.33-seconds.
"We had a really good race. We're all disappointed that we didn't place any higher, but we are so happy with what we've done," said junior rower Ashley Jones (Yakima, Wash./West Valley). "We're all young and we know what we're going to have to do next year during the training season to do what we need to do for racing season next year."
Brown was the winner of the varsity four grand final with a time of 7:41.10. California had a second-place time of 7:45.35 followed by Ohio State in 7:45.78 and Washington State in 7:46.09.
UW narrowly missed qualifying for the varsity eight grand final during Saturday's semifinals with a fourth-place effort when only the top three qualified. The 11th-ranked varsity finished third in the petite final Sunday, placing ninth overall among the top crews.
The Huskies made a strong surge over the final 500 meters to overtake Yale for third place and clock a time of 6:49.14. The race ended with UW's bow ball on the deck of the Bulldogs whose time was 6:49.66. That proved pivotal in the team standings, vaulting the Huskies ahead of Yale.
"Our focus was on Yale because of the team competition. They were our team to beat and we did that," said junior rower Sarah Hubbard. "To come back and beat Yale and USC who beat us in the heats, was great. We just had our best races of the season and that's what you want to do to finish up."
Sunday marked the fourth race during the three-day regatta for the Huskies' top crew. They had to row twice Friday, including an impressive repechage victory that secured its semifinal berth.
"Physically it really takes a toll, especially in the heat and humidity, which are conditions that we don't normally deal with," McElvaine explained of the hectic racing schedule. "Obviously, we train for it. We do the best we can to prepare. It really comes down to guts, to do it four times like that. They honestly feel like they got better every time."
Arguably the best performance of the day for the Huskies was turned in by the second varsity eight in the petite final. Michigan State surged into the early lead, but UW kept contact as those two rowed away from the field. A frenetic sprint drew the Huskies to the Spartans' sixth seat at the finish line.
Michigan State won the petite final with a time of 6:57.22 while UW's runner-up mark was 6:58.82. Stanford was a distant third in 7:00.38 and Yale was fourth in 7:03.45.
"We didn't back down. We pushed all the way down, fought off Stanford and fought off Yale," described sophomore coxswain Alysha Koorji (Orinda, Calif.). "We stayed with Michigan State, but couldn't get them at the end. There was some general disappointment because it would have been really cool to go to the grand final, but we came back and had one of our best races of the year."
Brown was the winner of the second varsity grand final with a time of 6:48.76.
2006 NCAA Women's Rowing Championships
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Mercer Lake; West Windsor, N.J.
(all races were 2,000 meters)
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS
1, California 66
2, Brown 66
3, Princeton 56
4, Washington State 52
5, Ohio State 52
6, Michigan State 40
7, Washington 33
8, Wisconsin 28
9, Notre Dame 22
10, Yale 21
11, Stanford 21
12, Tennessee 11
CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS
1, Princeton 6:36.85
2, California 6:43.26
3, Brown 6:43.52
4, Washington State 6:48.06
5, Ohio State 6:49.31
6, Michigan State 6:51.22
1, Notre Dame 6:47.54
2, Minnesota 6:48.52
3, Washington 6:49.14
4, Yale 6:49.66
5, USC 6:51.16
6, UCLA 6:56.31
7, Stanford 7:02.36
UW lineup: cox-Eva Anderson, stroke-Courtney Plitt, 7-Jamie Unwin, 6-Sarah Hubbard, 5-Kim Armstrong, 4-Megan Kalmoe, 3-Allison DePalma, 2-Olivia Morrow, bow-Marah Connole.
Second Varsity Eights
1, Brown 6:48.76
2, California 6:54.37
3, Wisconsin 6:54.49
4, Ohio State 6:55.96
5, Washington State 6:56.08
6, Princeton 7:00.47
1, Michigan State 6:57.22
2, Washington 6:58.82
3, Stanford 7:00.38
4, Yale 7:03.45
5, Tennessee 7:04.68
6, Notre Dame 7:05.00
UW lineup: cox-Alysha Koorji, stroke-Andrea Sooter, 7-Cara Troelstra, 6-Kim Kennedy, 5-Charlene Franklin, 4-Karen Magnuson, 3-Corianne Bowman, 2-Ivayla Dermendjieva, bow-Liz Simenstad.
1, Brown 7:41.10
2, California 7:45.35
3, Ohio State 7:45.78
4, Washington State 7:46.09
5, Washington 7:49.33
6, Michigan State 7:54.03
1, Princeton 7:49.34
2, Wisconsin 7:53.41
3, Stanford 7:57.03
4, Yale 7:57.68
5, Notre Dame 8:01.96
6, Tennessee 8:03.43
UW lineup: cox-Sofia Benson-Goldberg, stroke-Ashley Jones, 3-Asiha Grigsby, 2-Taryn Langlois, bow-Erika Sweet.