May 16, 2006
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The University of Washington crew was one of 12 teams extended an invitation Tuesday to compete at the 2006 NCAA Women's Rowing Championships, May 26-28 at Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J.
The selection was a relief for the Huskies who placed third in the team standings at Sunday's Pac-10 championships. Their NCAA championship fate was in the hands of the selection committee that had only seven at-large berths to distribute.
The uneasy period before the announcement extended even longer than expected for third-year Coach Eleanor McElvaine who was in her office awaiting the teleconference scheduled for noon.
"I was sitting on the conference call line and they were about five minutes late. It was an interesting five minutes trying to keep my hands from shaking," she explained. "They were going down the list in alphabetical order and when they announced Stanford, then I knew that we were in because Stanford finished below us at Pac-10s. We're just really excited and I think it's going to be a fantastic championship."
The Huskies are the No. 3 seed from the West Region that also supplied the championship regatta with Pac-10 winner California, Stanford and Washington State. Each of the 12 schools vying for the team championship is required to enter crews in three events: the varsity eights, second varsity eights and varsity fours. The NCAA team champion is determined by combining the results from the three events. In addition, four schools received at-large berths to enter boats in the varsity eight competition.
The field includes eight of the same schools from last season's championships. The new entries for 2006 are Notre Dame, Stanford, Tennessee and Washington State.
Washington is one of only three schools to receive invitations to all 10 championships since the NCAA began sponsoring women's rowing in 1997. The Huskies are joined in that elite group by Brown and Princeton. Virginia, which qualified for the previous nine NCAA regattas, did not earn a berth this season. Another prominent omission from the NCAA field is Harvard, the 2003 national champion.
The prowess of the Pac-10 was rewarded with four team berths, while USC and UCLA received at-large varsity eight entries. All six teams that competed in Sunday's varsity eight grand final at the Pac-10 regatta will row at the NCAA championships.
The year's complete field of schools vying for the team championship includes, Brown, California, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Princeton, Stanford, Tennessee, Washington, Washington State, Wisconsin and Yale. The four at-large varsity eights are Boston University, Minnesota, UCLA and USC.
California won the 2005 NCAA team title, becoming the third different winner in as many years. Brown captured its NCAA-leading fourth championship in 2004 and Harvard was victorious in 2003. UW took home the championship trophy in 1997, 1998 and 2001. The Huskies placed ninth in the team standings last spring.
The 11th-ranked Huskies return four rowers from crew that finished 12th among varsity eights at the 2005 NCAA regatta. Senior rowers Marah Connole, Allison DePalma and Megan Kalmoe are joined by junior Courtney Plitt from last year's top UW crew.
The Husky men's team will also row for national titles. They compete June 1-3 at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) championships on the Cooper River in Cherry Hill, N.J.
2006 NCAA WOMEN'S ROWING CHAMPIONSHIPS FIELD
May 26-28, 2006 in West Windsor, N.J.
At-Large Varsity Eights