May 28, 2004
RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. - All three Washington entries successfully advanced through first-day heat races Friday, including the junior varsity eight crew that won its race to earn an automatic berth into Sunday's grand final at the NCAA Women's Rowing Championships on Lake Natoma.
The championships continue Saturday morning with semifinal and repechage races before concluding with Sunday's finals. The Huskies' sixth-ranked varsity eight crew finished second in its heat and will compete in Saturday's semifinals. The UW varsity four was also a runner-up in heat racing and will row in a repechage.
The Huskies won the second of two heats in the junior varsity event and will join the other heat winner, Brown, in the six-boat grand final. The other four spots will be determined during repechage racing Saturday.
"I'm so happy that we don't have to race tomorrow. We have the confidence to come into the final knowing that we are able to beat all those people again," said coxswain Katie Peyer, a junior from Kentwood (Wash.) High School making her debut in the Huskies' junior varsity crew. She filled in for regular coxswain Dana Ryan who was unable to travel due to a setback in her battle with Crohn's disease.
Washington registered the fastest time in junior varsity racing, completing the 2,000-meter course in 6-minutes, 46.7-seconds. The Huskies opened an early lead that increased to as much as a boat length by the 1,000-meter mark. California drew closer over the final 500, but still finished five seats back in 6:48.3. Brown's winning time in the first heat was 6:47.3.
The first-place showing was an unexpected result for Washington's junior varsity boat that had won just two of six competitions this season. The lineup underwent major changes throughout the season, including the recent insertion of four freshmen. Two of those newcomers, Andrea Sooter (Bellevue Christian HS) and Cara Troelstra, joined the crew last week following a disappointing third-place effort at the Pac-10 Championships on May 16. Two weeks later, on the same Lake Natoma venue, the Huskies out-raced the same California and Washington State crews that finished one-two at the conference regatta.
"This is a different boat than we had at Pac-10s. It took us a little while to put together this lineup," explained UW novice coach Erica Schwab who has been working with the junior varsity. "Sometimes the stuff that looks good on paper doesn't always work in the boat. These last changes were clearly, really effective. We're going for the medals now."
Washington competes in the varsity eight semifinals and needs to finish in third place or better to earn a berth in the grand final. The Huskies' varsity four rows in a repechage Saturday, requiring first- or second-place result for entry to the grand final.
The Huskies took an early lead in the varsity eight race, but relinquished it just past the midway point. Third-ranked Ohio State surged ahead at that stage and continued to stretch the margin into a three-seat victory. Ohio State finished in 6:45.6 followed by Washington in 6:46.2. Notre Dame clocked a time of 6:48.7, taking third place at the finish line away from Tennessee which finished in 6:49.1.
"We had one of the best starts we've ever had and got out in front of all of the boats. It was very satisfying," varsity coxswain Megan Mach (Ballard HS) exclaimed. "I'm really excited to see what we have tomorrow because we sprinted today, but it was sort of a half sprint."
First-year head coach Eleanor McElvaine was pleased with the performance of her varsity eight crew.
"They are using the environment of the championships to raise their game and play up at a higher level which is certainly what you hope and pray for as a coach," she said. "You can see out there that some people are rowing better than they ever have before. I think we are one of those. You also see some people cracking and not rowing very well."
Top-ranked California lost for the first time, finishing one boat length behind No. 8 Michigan in the second heat. Brown beat the field in the third heat, a race in which defending champion Harvard placed fourth and Washington State fifth.
The varsity eight competition is arguably the most wide open since the NCAA began sponsoring women's rowing in 1997. The loss by California means that no team has a perfect record. The last crew to go undefeated en route to the national championship was Washington in 2002.
UW's varsity four recorded a time of 7:38.7 to finish second in its heat. Ohio State won by a boat length with a time of 7:35.4. The Huskies were varsity four champions in 2000 and 2001 and placed seventh last season as the winner of the petite final. Virginia won the first heat in 7:28.9.
NCAA WOMEN'S ROWING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Friday, May 28, 2004
Lake Natoma; Rancho Cordova, Calif.
(top three finishers in each race to semifinals)
Heat I -- 1, Ohio State 6:45.6. 2, Washington 6:46.2. 3, Notre Dame 6:48.7. 4, Tennessee 6:49.1. 5, USC 6:49.9. 6, Michigan State 6:55.5.
UW lineup: cox-Megan Mach, stroke-Sanda Hangan, 7-Kara Farquharson, 6-Yvonneke Stenken, 5-Allison DePalma, 4-Mary Reeves, 3-Sarah Hubbard, 2-Gemma Edward-Aron, bow-Michael Kohan.
Heat II -- 1, Michigan 6:45.8. 2, California 6:49.5. 3, Virginia 6:54.8. 4, Wisconsin 6:59.7. 5, Texas 7:04.8.
Heat III -- 1, Brown 6:44.1. 2, Yale 6:46.7. 3, Princeton 6:49.2. 4, Harvard 6:57.3. 5, Washington State 7:19.7.
Second Varsity Eights
(winner of each race to grand final, rest to repechage)
Heat I -- 1, Brown 6:47.3. 2, Virginia 6:48.8. 3, Michigan 6:54.8. 4, Wisconsin 6:57.5. 5, Ohio State 6:59.0. 6, Michigan State 7:01.7.
Heat II -- 1, Washington 6:46.7. 2, California 6:48.3. 3, Washington State 6:51.0. 4, Yale 6:53.9. 5, Princeton 6:56.0. 6, Harvard 6:57.3.
UW lineup: cox-Katie Peyer, stroke-Courtney Plitt, 7-Andrea Sooter, 6-Megan Kalmoe, 5-Amanda Jensen, 4-Liz Simenstad, 3-Cara Troelstra, 2-Marah Connole, bow-Olivia Morrow.
(winner of each race to grand final, rest to repechage)
Heat I -- 1, Virginia 7:28.9. 2, Yale 7:35.6. 3, California 7:37.7. 4, Princeton 7:41.4. 5, Washington State 7:43.3. 6, Michigan State 7:51.0.
Heat II -- 1, Ohio State 7:35.4. 2, Washington 7:38.7. 3, Brown 7:41.6. 4, Wisconsin 7:43.1. 5, Michigan 7:48.1. 6, Harvard 7:51.5.
UW lineup: cox-Eva Anderson, stroke-Alina Tabacaru, 3-Signe Johannes, 2-Katherine Ramos, bow-Analena Shepherd.