The Gold Standard! Stanford Claims Team, I Eight National Titles At NCAA Championships
May 31, 2009
CHERRY HILL, N.J. - History was made Sunday at the NCAA Women's Rowing Championships at Cooper River Park in Cherry Hill, N.J. as Stanford claimed its first-ever team and I Eight national championships in thrilling fashion. With the team title coming down to the I Eight Grand Final, the last race of the day, the Stanford crew put to rest any memories of last season's tough defeat by jumping to a lead out of the gate and refusing to yield to Virginia over the entire 2,000-meter course, edging the Cavalier crew by 0.37 of a second to claim the individual gold as well as the team title.
Stanford claimed the team title with 88 points, three more than California and Yale, which each tallied 85 points. California claimed the silver in the team competition by virtue of a higher finish in the I Eight Grand Final.
The national title is the first in program history for Stanford, besting the team's previous top team finish of ninth place in (YEAR). For the No. 1-ranked I Eight, Sunday's national title bests the team's previous best of the silver medal, achieved at last year's NCAA Championships. The I Eight clocked a victorious time of 6:11.95, edging the times of second-place Virginia (6:12.32) and third-place California (6:14.76).
The Cardinal II Eight and Four boats helped set the stage for the I Eight's dramatic victory, as the Four started the day with a fifth-place effort in its Grand Final. The crew opened the race in third position and held that spot over through the halfway point before being caught by Yale by the three-quarters mark. Over the final 500-meter sprint, the Cardinal tried to hold off a charge from the California boat, but found itself nipped at the line by 0.29 of a second by the Golden Bears and had to settle for fifth.
In the next Grand Final, that of the II Eight, the Cardinal found itself running second at the 500-meter mark, trailing California by just 0.26 of a second. Stanford held its position over the next 500 meters, but in the third 500, Yale made its move and surged ahead of both Stanford and California to move into the lead. Over a furious final sprint, the Cardinal managed to retain third place, holding off the challenging Brown boat to net a valuable top-three finish.
That set the stage for the I Eight Grand Final, which would not only determine the I Eight national champion, but would also decide the team title as well. With all of the pressure and focus on the six boats on the water, it was the top-ranked Cardinal that calmly set the tone and refused to let its destiny be taken away.
Stanford led the race in the early stages, being separated from Virginia in second and California in third by less than a second. Over the second 500, the Cardinal would push its advantage up to just over a second on the Cavaliers, while the Golden Bears would drop all the way to sixth.
The Cardinal maintained its one-second-plus lead over the Cavaliers heading into the final 500 meters, and there the two crews went toe-to-toe with the gold medal at stake. In the end, it would be Stanford that refused to yield, as the Cardinal crossed the line 0.37 of a second ahead of Virginia with a gold medal-winning time of 6:11.95.
The victory not only set off a celebration among the I Eight, but also among the Stanford contingent at the announcement that the Cardinal had claimed the big prize and was crowned the 2009 NCAA Champion.
NCAA Women's Division I Rowing Championships - Final Team Standings
School - Points
1. Stanford - 88
2. California - 85*
3. Yale - 85
4. Virginia - 78
5. Brown - 71
6. Michigan State - 54
7. Washington - 50
8. Ohio State - 49
9. Michigan - 48
10. Princeton - 46**
11. USC - 46
12. Clemson - 43
13. Wisconsin - 26
14. Harvard - 21
15. Oregon State - 14
16. Dartmouth - 12
* Cal wins tiebreaker (better I Eight finish) to edge Yale
** Princeton wins tiebreaker (better I Eight finish) to edge USC