USC, three other Pac-12 teams advance to NCAA women's rowing finals

Top-ranked USC leads the pack at the NCAA Division I Women’s Rowing Championships, with three top-three finishes in Saturday’s semifinal races to advance all its boats to Sunday’s grand finals. Cal and Washington advanced two boats each, while Washington State’s lone remaining boat placed third in its race to also make the grand finals at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind.

USC

With first-place, second-place and third-place finishes in the semifinals, the No. 1 Trojans advanced all three crews to the grand finals for just the second time ever. USC, gearing for its first NCAA rowing title, joins Ohio State as the only two teams with all three boats in the grand finals. The Trojans’ varsity eight boat (7:05.999) finished in second place in its semifinals race, five seconds behind Virginia. Their second varsity eight race was closer, with less than two seconds separating Yale (7:22.769) and USC (7:24.284) for second spot behind the Buckeyes. The Trojans’ varsity four, however, secured first place by more than five seconds with a time of 7:44.822.

[Related Trojans take Pac-12 Women's Varsity Eight title]

California

After two first-place finishes Friday, none of Cal’s three boats hit the top of the leader board in Saturday’s semifinal races. Nonetheless, the No. 3 Bears’ two varsity eight boats both finished in the top three to secure spots in the grand finals Sunday.

The Cal varsity eight boat’s third-place time was 7:09.358, nine seconds behind first-place Virginia, but still seven seconds ahead of fourth-place UCLA. The Bears’ second varsity boat’s race was neck and neck. Less than one second separated the top three finishers, and Cal’s 6:55.088 time was good enough for second place. In the varsity four race, the Bears were a distant fourth place at 7:46.106.

[Related Cal wins their sixth straight Pac-12 Women's Rowing Championship]

Washington

Two Washington boats will be racing in Sunday’s grand finals.

The Huskies’ varsity eight crew ( 7:17.226) just barely finished in third place, edging out Yale (7:17.689) to claim a spot in the grand finals. There was a little more breathing room in their varsity four race, with a second-place finish in 7:38.978, two seconds behind leader Ohio State and three seconds ahead of third-place Brown. Washington’s second varsity eight boat ran into some trouble, finishing with the worst time of the six boats in its semifinal race. The Huskies (7:34.165) came through 10 seconds behind third-place USC.

Stanford

On Friday, all three Cardinal boats needed repechages to advance to the semifinals. On Saturday, however, there were no do-overs. None of Stanford’s three boats finished in the top three — thereby missing the grand finals — and none of them were close. The Cardinal varsity eight boat (7:17.747) took sixth place, behind three other Pac-12 teams. Stanford’s second varsity eight boat did one better, finishing in fifth place in 7:31.671, more than seven seconds behind third-place USC. The Cardinal’s varsity four boat also took fifth place with a time of 7:52.286, more than 10 seconds out of third place.

[Related: NCAA women's rowing championships grand finals heat sheet]

UCLA

Like the Cardinal, the Bruins fell considerably short of reaching the grand finals. UCLA’s varsity eight boat just barely beat out Brown and Stanford for fourth place with a time of 7:16.059, but the Bruins’ boat was still seven seconds behind Cal. UCLA’s second varsity eight boat finished in 7:03.379, a distant fifth-place finish and more than eight seconds out of the vaunted top three.

Both UCLA boats will race in the petite finals on Sunday.

Washington State

Despite having just one boat in the semifinals, Washington State’s varsity four crew will be competing in the grand finals Sunday. The boat edged out Princeton, 7:52.482 compared to 7:52.692, to finish in third place in Saturday’s semifinals.

The Cougars’ time was more than two seconds out of second place and nearly eight seconds behind first-place USC, but it was good enough to make the grand finals. Washington State’s varsity eight boat took first in its C/D semifinals race to advance to the C final for places 13-18.

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