May 30, 2010
RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. - At the conclusion of the 2010 NCAA Championships, women's crew coach Bob Ernst gathered his student-athletes around the boat trailer and gave thanks to the seniors. For that group, it marked the final time they would take the white oars into competition. Washington finished in a tie for 10th at the NCAAs, making the Grand Final in the varsity four and the Petite Finals in the other two categories (varsity eight and second varsity eight).
Now the story shifts to planning for next season, where the Huskies will need to gain more boat speed to move into contention for the medal podium.
"We'd like to see more boats in the final, but it's a process," Ernst said. "The Husky standard is to win. The thing that I look forward to is next year."
The crews on Lake Natoma threw down fast times in the weekend's races. Virginia won the overall team title with 87 points, five ahead of second-place California. Washington was locked in a tie with Michigan at 43 points. The bulk of the points came from the Huskies fifth-place finish in the Petite Final - 11th overall.
The point distribution system is waited in favor of the varsity eight. But it was the varsity four who had the opportunity to take home glory after swift rows in the heats and the semifinals moved the team into the Grand Final. The Huskies started strong, pulling into position for a spot on the podium. All the crews, however, could not match the rate of Virginia's four, which finished with a scorching time of 7:07.98. Washington finished sixth at 7:19.31.
The second varsity eight was another Husky boat which made a strong push out of the opening gate. Their split in the opening 500 meters was a 1:34.36, which put them three seats ahead of Wisconsin. But the Badgers made a move at the 1,000 to pull their bow ball nearly even with the Huskies, before taking the lead shortly after. UW ended up finishing fourth, crossing the line with a time of 6:40.38.
At last it was the varsity eight, who took the starting line as the temperatures picked up at the course. But Michigan State used a fast start to take a half-length lead at the 500-meter mark. The Spartans would continue to set the pace, moving to a bow-stern lead over UCLA and Brown halfway through. The Huskies remained in contention, never letting the middle crews' lead swell to open water. In the third 500 meters, UW overtook Michigan for fifth and finished the race at that same position, with a time of 6:35.86.
It was an emotional ending for the seniors, a group that has made their mark within the program. But the Huskies are considered a relatively young team, meaning there will be a major competition for seats and boats once the team reconvenes in the fall. The coaching staff also hopes the team is able to take away some lessons from the NCAA Championships.
"I think it's like that cliché statement that everyone says, `It's not really about where you are but where you are and what you do with it from here,'" said assistant/novice coach Nicole Minett. "And that's going to be the definition of what this experience was like for some people."
2010 NCAA Championships Lineups
Cox - Ariana Tanimoto, stroke - Veronica Tamsitt, 7 - Marie Strohmayer, 6 - Kerry Simmonds, 5 - Adrienne Martelli, 4 - Madison Culp, 3 - Rosie DeBoef, 2 - Hanne Trafnik, bow - Kayleigh Mack