May 30, 2009
CHERRY HILL, NJ - The second varsity eight put together a strong performance to land itself in the grand final Sunday at 11am Eastern on the Cooper River in Cherry Hill, NJ. Washington's varsity eight and varsity four will each race in the petite finals.
"The jayvees are doing great," said Director of Rowing and women's head coach Bob Ernst. "It's very exciting. I thought they had a good row. I think they have a shot at winning. That will be a good shootout."
The junior varsity eight got off the line quickly, overtaking Michigan State before the first 500 meters to move into third behind California and Stanford. The Huskies kept at it, moving through Cal by the midway point of the race. Washington tried to establish some distance between itself and the Golden Bears, but the Huskies couldn't pull away. The Dawgs moved up on the Cardinal and took about three seats by the finish, but could not overtake Stanford. Washington finished second in the semifinal heat, just a second and a half behind Stanford. The Huskies crossed the line in 6:28.61, the second fastest JV eight time of the day. Washington will match up against Stanford, California, Brown (which recorded the third-fastest second varsity time of the day), Virginia and Yale Sunday in the grand finals at 11am EDT.
"We just decided coming right off the docks that we were committed to it and just going out and doing it," said second varsity coxswain Isabelle Woodward. "We got kind of messed up in the warm-up. There were a lot of delays, a lot of delays. We just kind of tried to focus on re-focusing and then once we got into the starting line, there were more wind delays. We get going, the official said, 'Attention, GO!' and it was all about what we had talked about and everything we planned. A couple of crews got off the start really fast and we just needed to go after it. We started focusing on Michigan State right away, we were up on them a little bit. We just kept taking seats and the next thing I knew, we were into Cal and started focusing on going off them. We ended up pretty good into Stanford. It was the most aggressive race we've done and we did everything that we knew we needed to do and we know we have more. And that's exciting."
"We treated this like it was our final, so we did everything that we could," Woodward added. "But we know we have more in us. I think we've got more in our sprint, we can be faster off start. We didn't save anything, but we know we can go even harder tomorrow. That's the Husky way. Every time you go out, you go faster."
The varsity eight race came with a hefty dose of drama. Within the first 200 meters, Clemson was charged with a false start and initially disqualified from racing when the rower in the bow seat was ejected from the boat. Officials called all crews back to the start, then deliberated over whether the Tigers simply caught a crab or if there was an equipment malfunction of some kind. In the meantime, officials ran the second semifinal heat, which California won with a blistering 6:12.87, thanks, in small part, to a favorable tail wind.
"I think one thing we were really focused on, as soon as we figured out there was a false start, was trying to keep our heads in the boat and stay relaxed while the other crews freaked out and did what they did," recalled varsity coxswain Ariana Tanimoto. "So that was one thing we really tried to focus on."
Once Clemson was ruled eligible to race and the rower in the bow seat was cleared to row, the first varsity eight semifinal finally got underway. Stanford and Virginia were hot off the start, with Brown, Michigan and Washington not far behind, jockeying for the final qualifying place. The Cavaliers and the Cardinal kept pace with one another, finishing just half a second apart. At the midway point, Washington was in fourth place, looking to move up on Brown, who was firmly established in the third-place spot. Michigan made a huge move over the next few hundred meters, edging Washington back to fifth place. The Wolverines held the Huskies off, finishing in fourth, relegating the Dawgs to fifth place. Washington crossed the line in 6:30.28, putting them squarely in the petite final to be held at 11:30am EDT. The Huskies will face Michigan, Clemson, USC, Michigan State and Ohio State.
"I didn't think the varsity eight had a very good race. They're kind of up and down," said Ernst after the race. "They had a great race yesterday, which is what they needed to do. When you're a fringe-y crew, you're hoping to pick up maybe third place to get into the final. There are lots of people out there who are going about the same speed and wish that they could pick up third place and get in the final too. So I didn't think that the varsity had a particularly good row today, but maybe that's just about where they are. Maybe they're in the top-12 and not in the top six."
"It's hard to have a perfect race," remarked Tanimoto. "I think we executed. We did what we were planning on doing and it just wasn't fast enough."
In the varsity four race, the Huskies lined up in lane six against Brown, Harvard, Yale, Virginia and Clemson. Washington got out to a good start and put themselves in third place, hoping to qualify for the grand finals. The Huskies maintained their position throughout the race, holding almost a one second advantage over Virginia coming into the last 500 meters. In the final sprint, the Cavaliers made a move, pushing past the Huskies, just edging Washington out of the grand final. The Huskies pulled across the finish in 7:19.17, less than a second behind Virginia's 7:18.28.
"The fours was just a heartbreak," said Ernst. "Those kids rowed their hearts out all the way down, and they're almost all freshmen in there. A couple tenths of a second... Disappointing today, yeah, but I'll tell you what. They're going to learn some important lessons from being here. Sometimes disappointment can go a long way in the years to come to make them better athletes."
The varsity four will race in the petite final Sunday at 10am EDT, alongside Harvard, Brown, Ohio State, Michigan and USC.
2009 NCAA Rowing Championships Results - Day 2
Cooper River * Cherry Hill, NJ
1, Virginia - 6:15.53; 2, Stanford - 6:15.59; 3, Brown - 6:23.20; 4, Michigan - 6:26.92; 5, Washington - 6:30.28; 6, Clemson - 6:35.03
1, California - 6:12.87; 2, Princeton - 6:17.03; 3, Yale - 6:18.32; 4, USC - 6:20.69; 5, Michigan State - 6:24.44; 6, Ohio State - 6:29.45.
Second Varsity Eight
1, Brown - 6:28.85; 2, Virginia - 6:29.75; 3, Yale - 6:31.92; 4, Ohio State - 6:40.45; 5, Michigan - 6:44.39; 6, USC - 6:47.88
1, Stanford - 6:27.08; 2, Washington - 6:28.61; 3, California - 6:29.66; 4, Princeton - 6:30.57; 5, Michigan State - 6:33.30; 6, Clemson - 6:50.09.
1, Clemson - 7:16.17; 2, Yale - 7:17.50; 3, Virginia - 7:18.28; 4, Washington - 7:19.17; 5, Harvard, 7:30.75; 6, Brown - 7:31.69
1, Wisconsin - 7:15.35; 2, California - 7:17.83; 3, Stanford - 7:18.58; 4, Ohio State - 7:19.95; 5, Michigan - 7:22.19; 5; 6, USC - 7:26.53.