May 29, 2010
RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. - The women's varsity four advanced to the Grand Finals of the NCAA Championships on Saturday, putting the Huskies in position for a gold medal.
In their semifinal heat, the Huskies finished second to Cal, pulling in with a time of 7:14.41. Both teams displayed their class coming down the course, with the Golden Bears taking a two-second lead at the 1,000-meter mark. The Huskies responded with a ferocious move in the second half, nearly pulling even with Cal's bow ball with 250 meters to go. The top three boats advanced, while the rest moved to the Petite Finals.
"(Cal) went out and took control into the race. They turned semifinal into a dual and controlled it," said assistant coach Colin Sykes. "We were looking to execute some part of the race we could use in the final. We worked the course the way we wanted to. It gives (the student-athletes) the confidence to win going forward."
The other two Husky boats are headed to the Petite Finals in their respective categories.
The second varsity eight finished fourth in a six-boat heat with a time of 6:38.89. The top three boats (Brown, Virginia and Cal) were each neck-and-neck at the 500-meter mark, with the Huskies trailing the leaders by four seats. Then a well-executed move the UW put them into third, taking two seats on the Cavaliers. UVA struck back at the 1,000, and then made another move on Cal to take second. The varsity eight was the sixth-place finisher in their heat, a veritable who's who of crews in the nation. The initial trio off the blocks, led by Yale, set a blistering pace with their stroke rates near 40. Washington moved solidly into fourth place before the effects of rowing in two races the previous day began to wear on them.
Afterwards, women's coach Bob Ernst gave credit to the crews grouped together with the Huskies. He also made it clear the Huskies were on the right track in constructing their program for the future.
"We're working really hard to rebuild this program, and you have to compliment the top-level performers here," said women's coach Bob Ernst, "because they're really, really good."
Yet the Huskies still have plenty to race for on Sunday. Solid showings in the petite final and the four's grand final will contribute points to the program's overall standings.
For the varsity four, the boat is looking to secure the Huskies first gold medal since a four boat won at the 2008 NCAAs. It's been a constant theme of discussion for Sykes whenever he and his team hold boat meetings. Anything is possible with a Grand Final; most of the time the gold goes to the crew who wants it the most.
"I've been reminding them, to win a championship race at the NCAA level, is a test of wills," Sykes said. "It's how willing they are able to go, and push themselves individually for each other. They've established how much they'd like to perform tomorrow. They're getting on the right page and committing to each other."
The action gets underway on Sunday beginning at 10:15 a.m.
Lineups for NCAA Championships Semifinal
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