May 30, 2008
RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. - All three Washington crews successfully advanced through first-day heat races Friday, including the varsity four boat 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' 14th-ranked varsity eight crew finished third in its heat and will compete in Saturday's semifinals. The UW second varsity was a runner-up in heat racing and will row in a repechage.
The impressive first-day results were vindication of sorts for the Washington women, whose at-large selection was in doubt until the NCAA Championships invitations were announced May 20.
"Today was great. The kids are really focused in on what they need to do here," remarked Husky head coach Bob Ernst. "They trained really hard in the last week to make a statement that they're not just participants here, they're here to row and to win.
"People have been asking me how we got here. We have a great team. This is a team deal."
The most convincing grounds for the Huskies' inclusion in the 12-team NCAA field was the performance of the varsity four, which won its second straight Pac-10 championship. Friday's showing placed the UW four solidly in national championship contention.
The Huskies won the second of two heats in the varsity four and will join the other heat winner, Virginia, in the six-boat grand final. The other four spots will be determined during repechage racing Saturday.
"It feels good to be able to kind of relax for a day and know that we're going to come out here and get another practice and just kind of get geared up for the next race," exclaimed varsity four stroke Rachel Powers. "Our coach, Colin (Sykes) kind of put the pressure on us this morning. He stressed how important it was that we got first in this heat so we could go straight to the finals and not have to race tomorrow."
Washington's varsity four completed the 2,000-meter course in 7-minutes, 31.66-seconds. The Huskies were never seriously challenged after battling Yale off the start. California moved into second place by the midway mark and finished nearly five seconds behind UW, with a time of 7:36.21. Yale was third in 7:43.73.
Virginia's winning time in the first heat was 7:27.07.
The Huskies have a legacy of success in the fours. UW placed among the top-five at the NCAAs every season since 2004 and captured three consecutive varsity four national championships from 1999-2001.
The Huskies defeated three higher ranked varsity eight opponents to punch their semifinal ticket in the featured event. Second-ranked Brown finished first with the fastest heat time of 6:23.12, followed by No. 5 Stanford in 6:25.68. UW claimed the important third-place position with a time of 6:26.88.
The top-three finishers in each varsity eight heat advanced directly to Saturday's semifinals. The remaining crews were forced into Friday afternoon's repechage, or second-change race, to determine the final three semifinal spots.
"This is the first time this combination has raced together and I told them that they needed to race like they had to win it. And they tried to win it," Ernst said. "They kind of lost focus a little bit in the third 500, probably because they were up and maybe they didn't expect to be."
The fourth-place finisher in UW's heat was No. 10 Michigan (6:31.93) and No. 12 Clemson was fifth (6:41.59).
The Huskies' varsity boat streaked to an early lead and maintained that position for the first half of the race. Brown moved into the lead by the 1,500-meter mark and Stanford cruised into second. Open water separated UW from fourth-place Michigan.
"We had a really good start and that's going to give us a lot of confidence going into the next round," said sophomore Isabelle Woodward, the UW coxswain. Woodward served as the varsity four coxswain for most of the season before being promoted into the top crew prior to the NCAA Regatta.
The other varsity eight heat winners were California (6:23.79) and defending champion Yale (6:25.60).
Washington needs to finish in third place or better during the semifinals to earn their first grand final berth since 2003.
The Huskies' second varsity eight rows in a repechage Saturday, requiring a first- or second-place result for entry to the grand final.
"Actually, I think it will benefit them to row in the reps tomorrow," Ernst commented about his second varsity. "As long as they keep positive attitudes and keep getting better every race, that's exactly what we want. It's good that they did well for having first-time out lineups. It will be really good for them to have another race tomorrow and do well and get ready for the finals."
UW's second varsity overcame a sluggish start to move through the field over the final 1,250 meters. The Huskies clocked a time of 6:47.18 to finish ahead of everyone except heat winner Brown (6:44.46). Ohio State posted a winning time of 6:44.87 to win the other heat.
"It was a great heat to build on," said senior Kim Armstrong. "We didn't necessarily have the greatest first 750, but our heads stayed in the race and we kept pressing throughout the entire 2,000 meters.
"The morale is really high. We are excited and grateful at the opportunity to come to nationals, so we're here to show them why they gave us a bid."
2008 NCAA Women's Rowing Championships
Friday, May 30, 2008
Lake Natoma; Rancho Cordova, Calif.
(all races were 2,000 meters)
HEAT RACE RESULTS
(top three finishers in each heat advance to semifinals, rest to repechage)
Heat 1 -- 1, Yale, 6:25.60. 2, Michigan State, 6:27.25. 3, Harvard, 6:27.56. 4, Wisconsin, 6:29.87. 5, USC, 6:33.40. 6, Ohio State, 6:36.01.
Heat 2 -- 1, Brown, 6:23.12. 2, Stanford, 6:25.68. 3, Washington, 6:26.88. 4, Michigan, 6:31.93. 5, Clemson, 6:41.59.
Heat 3 -- 1, California, 6:23.79. 2, Virginia, 6:24.95. 3, Princeton, 6:28.28. 4, Washington State, 6:28.98. 5, Tennessee, 6:30.69.
Repechage -- 1, USC, 6:40.77. 2, Washington State, 6:41.68. 3, Michigan, 6:42.01. 4, Wisconsin, 6:43.22. 5, Clemson, 6:47.28. 6, Ohio State, 6:48.22. 7, Tennessee, 6:50.92.
UW lineup: cox-Isabelle Woodward, stroke-Kara Farquharson, 7-Heather Young, 6-Kelly Foster, 5-Ashley Jones, 4-Kim Kennedy, 3-Alison Browning, 2-Kayleigh Mack, bow-Erika Shaw.
Second Varsity Eight
(Winner of each heat to grand final, rest to repechage)
Heat 1 -- 1, Ohio State, 6:44.87. 2, California, 6:49.17. 3, Tennessee, 6:52.30. 4, Michigan State, 6:53.38. 5, Harvard, 6:54.63. 6, Yale, 6:58.38.
Heat 2 -- 1, Brown, 6:44.46. 2, Washington, 6:47.18. 3, Virginia, 6:49.22. 4, Washington State, 6:52.38. 5, Wisconsin, 6:57.95. 6, Princeton, 7:08.53.
UW lineup: cox-Alysha Koorji, stroke-Erika Sweet, 7-Hanne Trafnik, 6-Rosanne DeBoef, 5-Erin Knox, 4-Helen Wall, 3-Samantha Smith, 2-Kim Armstrong, bow-Lia Prins.
(Winner of each heat to grand final, rest to repechage)
Heat 1 -- 1, Virginia, 7:27.07. 2, Michigan State, 7:31.83. 3, Brown, 7:34.28. 4, Ohio State, 7:42.17. 5, Washington State, 7:46.87. 6, Tennessee, 7:52.68.
Heat 2 -- 1, Washington, 7:31.66. 2, California, 7:36.21. 3, Yale, 7:43.73. 4, Princeton, 7:48.21. 5, Wisconsin, 7:56.76. 6, Harvard, 8:00.92.
UW lineup: cox-Maggie Cheek, stroke-Rachel Powers, 3-Jennifer Park, 2-Charlene Franklin, bow-Adrienne Martelli.