Huskies' Top Two Crews Advance to Sunday's Grand Finals

May 31, 2003

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Washington's top two crews will have an opportunity to defend their national championships in the Grand Final races tomorrow as both advanced successfully through semifinal competition Saturday during the second day of the NCAA Women's Rowing Championships at Eagle Creek Park.

The NCAA regatta concludes Sunday with the championship races. Washington boats will race in the varsity and second varsity Grand Finals and the varsity four Petite Final.

The Huskies' second varsity eight went wire-to-wire to win their race while the third-ranked varsity eight finished ahead of No. 1 Stanford and placed second to No. 2 Harvard in the semifinals. Washington won the last two varsity eight titles and claimed top honors in the NCAA second varsity event for the first time last year.

The other schools weren't the only opposition for Washington as a constant tailwind reached as high as 40 miles per hour. The high winds created choppy waters, particularly at the end of the 2,000-meter course.

The winds took a toll on several highly ranked varsity eights, including No. 4 Princeton and No. 6 Brown which was the runner-up last year.

'It was a water fight at the finish. This water changes the dimensions of the race, but it's racing and those are fair conditions that are the same for everybody,' said Washington head coach Jan Harville. 'As long as it's not unsafe, we're out there. We talked a lot about trying to pay a huge price in the first 1,250 (meters) because that's where the water was calmest.'

The Huskies' second varsity followed the race plan perfectly, bursting out to an early lead and sustaining it throughout en route to a three-seat win over Ohio State. UW finished in 6-minutes, 30.80-seconds followed by the Buckeyes in 6:31.97.

'That race was great. Our first 1,250 was fabulous,' UW coxswain Megan Mach exclaimed. 'The next 250 we held our position. The last 500, there were wakes and rollers. We got out ahead and we were able to hold. They would walk up a seat and we would take it right back.'

UW and Ohio State advance to Sunday's Grand Final race along with the top two finishers of the other repechage, Princeton and Harvard. Brown and California, which earned automatic berths by virtue of heat wins on Friday, round out the field.

The Huskies' top boat secured a berth in the championship race with a second-place finish Saturday. Their semifinal was loaded with four top contenders with only the top three crews advancing to the Grand Final.

Washington broke ahead early and paced the field until the 500-meter mark when Harvard gained the lead. The Crimson led by as many as four seats while UW, Brown and Stanford alternated in second place. At the finish, it was Harvard (6:20.05) followed by Washington (6:20.70) with Stanford (6:20.83) edging Brown (6:23.03) at the line.

Coxswain Anne Hessburg believes the weather benefited the Huskies.

'We race in wind and water like this all the time in Seattle. This is kind of our water. We just stayed focused and committed and pushed it, especially in the first 1,000 where the water was less rough.

'We were determined to get into the top three, that was really our goal,' Hessburg added. 'We weren't interested in taking first place. We just wanted to get into the final tomorrow because that's really where it's going to happen.'

The top three from the other semifinal, Michigan, Virginia and USC, join Harvard, UW and Stanford in the featured final.

The Grand Final should be a close affair as all six crews clocked semifinal times within two seconds of each other. With Brown out of the running, it is left for the Huskies to keep alive a streak that has seen those two schools dominate the varsity eight championship over the last seven seasons. Since Princeton won the 1995 title, Washington has collected four gold medals (1997, 1998, 2001, 2002) and Brown won three times (1996, 1999, 2000).

UW and Brown also have a stranglehold on the NCAA team trophy which is awarded to the highest scoring team. Points are determined by a formula calculated from a combination of results from each of the three events. The Huskies won in 1997, 1998 and 2001 while Brown claimed top honors in 1999, 2000 and 2002.

The Washington-Brown monopoly is in jeopardy as Harvard is the only school to qualify a crew in all three Grand Finals. No team has ever won the NCAA women's team title without an entry in all three championship races.

The Huskies are the only other team to have boats qualify for both varsity and second varsity eight Grand Finals which factor more heavily in the team standings.

Last year, the team title was effectively out of Washington's reach before the eights even hit the water. Eventual 2002 champion Brown won the varsity four event and UW placed 10th after failing to qualify for the Grand Final.

The UW four, which won three consecutive national championships from 1999-2001, will again compete in the Petite Final. They can still score points for the overall team championship and will finish between 7th and 12th place.

Despite rowing in second place for much of the race Saturday, Washington's varsity four dropped into third place in the repechage in which the top two finishers earned berths into the six-boat Grand Final. Yale led the entire way, finishing in 7:16.28. Michigan posted a second-place time of 7:17.43 followed by Washington in 7:22.21.

Saturday, May 31, 2003
Eagle Creek / Indianapolis, Ind.

(top three finishers in each race to Grand Final)
Semifinal I
1, Michigan 6:19.29. 2, Virginia 6:20.11. 3, USC 6:21.28. 4, California 6:21.90. 5, Princeton 6:27.05. 6, Ohio State 6:37.96.

Semifinal II
1, Harvard 6:20.05. 2, Washington 6:20.70. 3, Stanford 6:20.83. 4, Brown 6:23.03. 5, Yale 6:28.13. 6, Texas 6:29.20.
UW lineup: cox- Anne Hessburg, stroke- Lauren Estevenin, 7- Carrie Stasiak, 6- Adrienne Hunter, 5- Heidi Hurn, 4- Jessica Harm, 3- Erin Curry, 2- Mary Reeves, bow- Yvonneke Stenken.

(top two finishers in each race to Grand Final)
Repechage I

1, Princeton 6:29.98. 2, Harvard 6:31.03. 3, Virginia 6:31.98. 4, Michigan State 6:35.54. 5, Washington State 6:42.71.

Repechage II
1, Washington 6:30.80. 2, Ohio State 6:31.97. 3, Michigan 6:36.19. 4, Yale 6:36.56. 5, Stanford 6:39.53.
UW lineup: cox- Megan Mach, stroke- Sanda Hangan, 7- Courtney Matson, 6- Alina Tabacaru, 5- Amanda Jensen, 4- Margaret Henry, 3- Gemma Edward-Aron, 2- Signe Johannes, bow- Michael Kohan.

(top two finishers in each race to Grand Final)
Repechage I

1, Harvard 7:17.44. 2, Ohio State 7:18.85. 3, Princeton 7:21.54. 4, Virginia 7:26.25. 5, Stanford 7:34.81.

Repechage II
1, Yale 7:16.28. 2, Michigan 7:17.43. 3, Washington 7:22.21. 4, Washington State 7:22.80. 5, Michigan State 7:27.98.
UW lineup: cox- Dana Ryan, stroke- Lindsay Schwarz, 3- Nicole Mazikowski, 2- Katherine Ramos, bow- Lisa Krikava.

(team listed by lane assignment, Nos. 1-6)

Varsity Four
9:45 a.m. CDT -- Petite Final Stanford, Washington State, Princeton, Washington, Virginia, Michigan State.
10:00 a.m. CDT -- Grand Final
Ohio State, Yale, California, Brown, Harvard, Michigan.

Second Varsity Eight (Junior Varsity)
11:00 a.m. CDT -- Petite Final

Washington State, Yale, Virginia, Michigan, Michigan State, Stanford.
11:15 a.m. CDT -- Grand Final
Harvard, Washington, Brown, California, Princeton, Ohio State.

Varsity Eight
11:45 a.m. CDT -- Petite Final

Ohio State, Yale, California, Brown, Princeton, Texas.
12:00 p.m. CDT -- Grand Final
USC, Washington, Michigan, Harvard, Virginia, Stanford.

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