May 25, 2012
WEST MERCER, N.J. - All three Washington boats advanced straight to the semifinals on Friday morning, making for a strong start to the NCAA Rowing Championships for the Huskies.
Coming off a second-place overall finish at the Pac-12 Championships, the peaking Huskies continued to post fast times on the 2,000-meter course on Lake Mercer. And by advancing straight to the semis, the Huskies avoided having to come back to the course to battle back through the repechage.
Utilizing fair and relatively windless conditions on the course, the Huskies executed their race strategy to perfection. Because the top three crews in each heat advance, the Huskies only needed to ensure they were within the top groups.
Women's coach Bob Ernst was pleased with the performance, but cautioned the Huskies need to make sure the momentum carries over to Saturday's semifinals. The middle day of the championship event, which many feel is the best overall because of what's at stake, could have a huge impact on Washington's overall finish. Unlike the first day of NCAA racing, there is no repechage to back door into the finals.
"It was a good result for heat day," Ernst said. "It's certainly a step in the right direction. But for us to make the step we want to as a program, we need to do well in the semis."
Washington's varsity eight had the challenge of a loaded heat, featuring the Ivy League champion (Harvard) as well as No. 3 Virginia. This was in addition to defending National Champion Brown. The Cavaliers took an early lead but the Huskies were clinging tight through the first 1,500 meters, while also fighting off the advancing Crimson boat. In the end, the Huskies finished in second (6:43.51), less than a second ahead of Harvard (6:44.18).
The best racing of the entire first day arguably occurred with the Husky varsity four. After falling into fourth place at the 500-meter mark, the Huskies had responded with a powerful move that pushed their boat ahead of Stanford and UCLA. The Cardinal dropped behind the pack, and it was UCLA and Washington fighting for second place, with Virginia safely in the lead. The Huskies had a deck lead coming up to the finish line, and although the Bruins had their oars in last, there was enough of a cushion for UW to absorb that last push.
The UW 2V8 was third in their heat, but never was in danger as crews 4-5-6 were well behind the top group. Ohio State won the heat with a time of 6:43.97, followed by Princeton (6:45.95) and then the Huskies at 6:47.56.
NOTE: Former Husky coxswain Mary Whipple was part of a record-setting effort by the USA women's eight at the World Cup II in Lucerne, Switzerland this morning. The Americans blistered the 2,000-meter Rotsee course with a time of 5:54.17, well ahead of second place Great Britain.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS
May 25, 2012
Varsity Eight, Heat 1
Virginia 6:37.03, Washington 6:43.51, Harvard 6:44.18, Brown 6:50, Yale 6:52.60
Second Varsity Eight, Heat 3
Ohio State 6:43.97, Princeton 6:45.95, Washington 6:47.56, Cornell 6:53.47, Harvard 6:59.07, Michigan State 7:03.34
Varsity Four, Heat 2
Virginia 7:16.70, Washington 7:21.32, UCLA 7:21.70, Stanford 7:30.89, Michigan 7:32.62