Huskies in good position after first day of action.
May 29, 1998
Lake Lanier, Ga. - On the first day of competition of the NCAA Women's Rowing Championships, there was a new feeling for the defending national champion Washington team. All three crews advanced out of their respect heats to Saturday's semifinals and, in the process, hope to have shaken off any nerves now that they are the team to beat in only the sports second NCAA championship.
"Oh yes, its harder this year," said sophomore stroke Sabina Telenska. "Were like the hunting bunny at the dog races. Everyone is chasing, trying to catch us."
"We knew coming in here that we have a strong team, but we also know that the competition is much tougher this year," said Husky head coach Jan Harville. "That has been clear all along. Thats good for rowing. That's good for pushing all of us."
The Huskies were pushed on the opening day of competition. The Varsity I boat won its heat by four seats over Dartmouth while the Varsity II (junior varsity) failed to win a race for the first time this season, placing second to Brown in its qualifying heat. The Varsity Four placed third in its morning heat to grab the final spot in Saturday's semifinals and avoided having to race Friday afternoon in the repechage.
"We've done what we needed to do so far and that was qualify all three boats for the semifinals," Harville said. "We had a good, clean race and got some of the jitters out. I think you would be in trouble if you were at this event and not a little nervous."
Junior coxswain Missy Collins, who directed the men's junior varsity boat to a national championship at last year's Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships admitted to having a slight case of nerves before today's Varsity I competition.
"I was a little nervous today, but I was also excited," said the Bothell, Wash., native. "We haven't raced these teams and so we don't know what they are capable of. We were at the start line and I said to myself, What are these guys going to do?"
As it turns out in Washington's heat of the Varsity I races, it did not matter. The Huskies got off to a clean start and found themselves ahead of Dartmouth by three seats just 150 meters into the race. They kept that margin throughout the race and came across the finish line with a time of 6:19 with Dartmouth 1.4 seconds behind them. The third qualifier from the heat, Princeton, turned in a time of 6:22.1.
Brown, considered the Huskies top competition for both the Varsity I and II and the team championship, used an earlier starting time and more favorable wind conditions to post the fastest finish among the other qualifying heats. Brown covered the 2,000-meter course in 6:14.8, over four seconds ahead of second-place Northeastern (6:18.9) and Virginia (6:21.5). Massachusetts (6:27.7), Michigan (6:27.99) and Michigan State (6:36.94) also automatically advanced from their heat.
"We had an okay race. I know were definitely capable of so much more," Harville said. "We haven't raced these teams and we don't know what they are capable of. Today was just about trying to settle down and keep our heads in the boat."
"Generally we want to jump out at the start and we've done that most of the season," said senior bow Kari Green of Bellevue. "We were able to do that today and pretty much hold onto that lead throughout the race and even pull away a little more in the second half. I would probably give us a six today. There is plenty of room for improvement."
"The conditions were almost perfect today," Collins said. "The wind was picking up a bit from when we were warming up, but it was pretty much blowing straight down the course without any side winds. That was different because pretty much every race we've had this year has been a countdown start because everyone has been blowing around at the start."
Washington's Varsity II boat, which had not lost a race since last year's NCAA finals, suffered its first setback of the season by finishing with almost a boat length of open water between it and Brown in the qualifying heat. Brown won the race with a time of 6:24.7 while the Huskies crossed the finish line at 6:29.6. Virginia and Princeton qualified out of the other heat for the semifinals.
"They did not have a particularly good race," Harville said of her junior varsity team. "They felt that they got a quick start off the line, but they were probably rowing a little bit too high, which happens if youre too excited and have too much adrenaline pumping. When Brown moved on them, they felt like they got more nervous as opposed to just focusing on their boat. They felt they rowed too defensively and not offensively enough.
As a coach, I think we would like to go out and have perfect races and perfect execution and perfect everything, but that does not happen very often. So when it doesnt happen you have to turn it around and make it into a positive. You have to use it to motivate yourself. We really havent had a poor performance this year in the junior varsity, so I expect that will be enough to motivate them to know they have to keep their heads in their boat and row their own boat and that will allow them to have their best chance."
Washington's Varsity Four, rowing in only its second race this season, turned in a time of 7:09.2 to place behind USC's Pac-10 Championship crew and Brown. North Carolina, Virginia, Williams College, Pennsylvania, Iowa and Harvard also advanced to the semifinals out of their heats.
"It was only their second race this year, so we just wanted them to qualify," Harville said. "They were in a tough heat, so now they move on to the semifinals with a little more experience behind them."
Saturday's semifinals will begin at 10 a.m. PT on Lake Lanier. Sunday's finals are also scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. PT.
NCAA Women's Rowing Championships