Husky Rowers Win Third NCAA Championship

May 26, 2001

Gainesville, Ga. - The Washington women's rowing team returned to the site of its last championship and claimed another as the varsity eight stormed from behind to win a gold medal in the final race of the day and seal the team championship for the Huskies at the 2001 NCAA Rowing Championships on Lake Lanier.

It is the third NCAA team title for Washington since the sport first became sanctioned by the NCAA. The Huskies won the inaugural title in 1997 and successfully defended it in 1998, on Lake Lanier. This year also marks the third NCAA varsity eight gold medal by a Washington crew and the third consecutive event title by the varsity four.

Washington and a surprising Michigan team entered the final event of the regatta - the first varsity eight grand final - with the Wolverines leading the team tally by one point. In the four years since women's rowing became sanctioned by the NCAA, the team title has gone to the winner of the varsity eight race.

Washington started the championship day with a gold medal performance by the women's four, while Michigan picked up the silver medal. The Wolverines followed by winning the second varsity race (junior varsity), while the Huskies were second in that race, setting up the showdown in the first varsity eight grand final. Two-time defending champion Brown stood in third place with 22 points. Washington, Michigan and Brown only three schools with boats in all three grand finals.

Washington used its trademark fast start to jump off the line in the final race, which took place in a slight headwind that had picked up since the earlier events. The Huskies were in control through the first 500 meters, being chased by Princeton, before Brown moved ahead of the field at 750 meters in. The Bears went a deck up, with Washington in second and Princeton two seats back. Brown held the lead through the halfway mark, where the water was a little bit choppy from the headwind, and extended its margin to two seats. The Huskies were still in second at that point, half a length up on USC, Michigan and Princeton.

With 500 meters to go, Brown was holding onto the lead, followed by Washington and a charging Michigan crew. The Huskies, who started their sprint just before heading into the final 500, started taking seats back from Brown as the crews entered the home stretch. The last 250 meters saw the Huskies and Bears racing neck-and-neck to the finish line. Washington used a final furious sprint over the last 100 meters to cross the line first, in a time of 7 minutes, 04.03 seconds and seal the team championship. Brown followed at 7:05.34, Michigan was third at 7:08.45 and USC was fourth at 7:09.09.

'The crew said it was pretty rough,' Husky head coach Jan Harville said after the race. 'It wasn't pretty. They won it on guts. It was an outstanding performance.'

'In the last 500, our coxswain, Mary Whipple, did an excellenct job,' added senior Nicole Rogers. 'She said `let me take you guys home. Listen to me. It's going to get creative.' She started calling us up and we all went together. Once we started moving, we knew. She kept calling `believe, believe, believe' the whole time. When she called `believe', we did and we just went.'

The varsity four started the day for Washington, winning the gold medal in its event for the third year in a row. Once again composed of all novice rowers, along with a junior class coxswain who joined the crew just a week earlier, the Huskies jumped off the starting line and led from start to finish. The crew had a full length lead on the field by 750 meters in and never surrendered it. With a boat length lead on Michigan by the halfway mark, the crew had open water on everyone heading into the final 500. The Huskies secured their first win of the day, crossing the line at 7:32.69, while Michigan and Iowa battled for second and third, with the Wolverines narrowly edging the Hawkeyes, at 7:35.31 and 7:34.97, respectively. The finish order set the stage for the team title chase between the Huskies and Wolverines, as Brown was fifth in the event.

The second varsity eight final was a battle between the Huskies, Brown and Michigan. The Huskies started fast but Brown moved ahead for the early lead. The halfway mark saw Michigan pressuring Brown and the Huskies hanging on in third place. Michigan gradually increased its lead to three seats over Brown and pulled away to a full length up with 600 meters to go. Michigan and Brown had open water on third place Washington when the Huskies started moving. Michigan maintained its open water lead and its undefeated season, winning the gold medal in a time of 6:43.34. The Huskies charged back up on Brown in the final 100 meters to claim a come-from-behind victory in 6:48.52, ahead of the Bears at 6:50.53.

The national title race marked the final collegiate competition for varsity eight seniors Nicole Borges, Nicole Rogers and team captain Rika Geyser, who each earned their first NCAA Championships as Huskies. Juniors Anna Mickelson and Mary Whipple each added a second title to their resume, after winning gold medals in the varsity four as freshmen two years ago. Three sophomores in the varsity boat also collected a second national championship, as Lauren Estevenin, Carrie Stasiak and Adrienne Hunter won gold in the four as freshmen last year. Newcomer Annabel Ritchie, who joined the Huskies this year from New Zealand, completes the varsity crew with her first collegiate gold medal.

Senior rowers Noelle Anderson, Romany McNamara and Leslie Rattan, who all rowed in the junior varsity boat this year, also close their collegiate careers as national champions for the first time.

The varsity eight national title was Washington's 10th in school history. Husky varsity crews collected titles every year from 1981-85, again in 1987 and `88, and then began its streak of NCAA Championships in 1997 and `98 and now 2001.

The Washington men's rowing team departed Seattle Saturday for its national championships at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Regatta, May 31 - June 2 on the Cooper River in Camden, New Jersey.

NCAA Women's Rowing Championships
Saturday, May 26
Lake Lanier (2,000-meters), Gainesville, Ga.
Sunny, warm, slight breeze

Final team standings and points:
1. Washington 58 NCAA Team Champion

2. Michigan 53
3. Brown 49
4. Ohio State 37
5. Princeton 33
6. California 23
7. Virginia 22
8. Harvard 20
9. Iowa 18
10. Boston U. 17

Grand Final Results

First Varsity Eight
1. Washington 7:04.03. 2, Brown 7:05.34. 3, Michigan 7:08.45. 4, Southern California 7:09.09. 5, Princeton 7:10.12. 6, Syracuse 7:19.56.

UW lineup: cox - Mary Whipple, stroke- Lauren Estevenin, 7- Nicole Borges, 6-Anna Mickelson, 5-Rika Geyser, 4-Adrienne Hunter, 3-Carrie Stasiak, 2-Nicole Rogers, bow-Annabel Ritchie

Second Varsity Eight (junior varsity)
1, Michigan 6:43.34. 2, Washington 6:48.52. 3, Brown 6:50.53. 4, Virginia 6:52.13. 5, Ohio State 6:53.27. 6, Harvard 6:55.31.

UW lineup: cox-Anne Hessburg, stroke-Noelle Anderson, 7-Romany McNamara, 6-Kara Nykreim, 5-Heidi Hurn, 4-Jenni Vesnaver, 3-Leslie Rattan, 2-Erin Becht, bow-Alexa Helsell.

Varsity Four
1, Washington 7:32.69. 2, Michigan 7:35.31. 3, Iowa 7:35.97. 4, Ohio State 7:38.41. 5, Brown 7:42.06. 6, Virginia 7:44.93.

UW lineup: cox- Maili Barber, stroke - Marghe Pallotino, 3 - Katie Baurichter, 2 - Yvonneke Stenken, bown - Teegan Simonson.

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