May 28, 2010
RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. - On the first day of the NCAA Championships, the goal for crews is simple - advance to the semifinals.
Consider it mission accomplished for the Huskies, who advanced all three of their boats to the semis on Saturday morning.
For the varsity eight, it took an extra race on Lake Natoma in the afternoon as the Huskies needed the repechage to move on to the semifinal races on Saturday morning. No worries, as UW executed their race plan to perfection and finished second, narrowly edged by Michigan's bow ball. In an action-packed race that featured multiple moves throughout, the Huskies maintained composure and detached themselves from the surrounding chaos, finishing less than a second behind first-place Michigan at 6:35.84.
"I thought they improved a lot over this morning's row," said women's coach and rowing director Bob Ernst. "It was a challenging this race this afternoon. But we're in the semis and we're alive. It's great for us."
In the repechage, the top three teams advance on to the semifinals while the rest are eliminated, a group that included Washington State, Clemson, Ohio State and Tennessee.
The Huskies were put in this position after finishing fourth in the opening heat. Grouped in a murderer's row of crews, including four from the uber-competitive Pac-10 Conference, the Huskies faced tough competition to advance outright. Afterwards, a team meeting helped the crew clean up their technique on the water. "We had to get it done (and advance), there wasn't an option," said senior Kayleigh Mack, a recent All-Pac-10 selection.
Because the Huskies' varsity rowed in two races on Friday afternoon, the team will have its fitness tested in the semis. Mack said the team planned to stay off their feet and rest later that night, while enjoying a staple of all endurance athletes - pasta.
Meanwhile, the varsity four put down the best row of the afternoon for a Husky boat. Stroked by Victoria Nenchev, the four powered through their competition for a wire-to-wire victory in 7:14.71. The win qualified the team for automatic entry to the semifinals, the carrot that goes to the first three boats to cross the finish line. Their strength was evident from the start, as the boat was able to pick up a lot of extra run while rowing at a lower stroke rate than their competitors.
"There are some fast crews out there," said assistant coach Colin Sykes, who coaches the four. "It's good to be in the semifinals. We took our shots today systematically, and our girls are trained to do that. But I think the semifinals are clearly be one heck of a race."
A third-place finish propelled the second varsity eight into the semifinals as well. The 2V8 weathered a cannonball start from Brown, hanging on the Bears through the first 500 meters. Michigan entered the fray at the 1,000-meter mark, and it was a test for the Huskies to hold off UCLA to secure the coveted third spot, finishing in 6:40.53.
The semifinals continue tomorrow morning, as the Huskies will be looking to be one of the top three crews who can advance to the Grand Finals out of their heats.
Lineups for NCAA Championships
Cox - Ariana Tanimoto, stroke - Veronica Tamsitt, 7 - Marie Strohmayer, 6 - Kerry Simmonds, 5 - Adrienne Martelli, 4 - Alison Browning, 3 - Rosie DeBoef, 2 - Hanne Trafnik, bow - Kayleigh Mack
Second Varsity Eight
Cox - Isabelle Woodward, stroke - Nora von Gaertner, 7 - Heather Young, 6 - Jennifer Park, 5 - Erin Lauber, 4 - Adriene De Leuw, 3 - Ericka Shaw, 2 - Haley Yeager, bow - Erin Knox