Stanford Women's Rowing Edges Closer To Team And Individual National Titles At NCAA Championships
May 30, 2009
CHERRY HILL, N.J. - Stanford women's rowing qualified all three boats (I Eight, II Eight, and Four) for each class' respective Grand Final at the NCAA Championships Saturday at Cooper River Park in Cherry Hill, N.J., giving the Cardinal not only three chances at individual gold medals, but also a shot at the first-ever team NCAA title in program history.
By the end of Saturday's competition, the Cardinal was one of just four teams that had its entire fleet reach the Grand Final stage, along with California, Virginia and Yale.
Stanford women's rowing head coach Yasmin Farooq saw all three of her boats finish in the top three in their semifinal heats, earning passage to Sunday's Grand Finals. The II Eight claimed its semifinal while the I Eight took second in its race and the Four held off a late challenge to grab the final spot in its Grand Final.The I Eight will now get another chance at the gold medal that eluded it by mere tenths of a second at last year's NCAA Championship when it takes to the water Sunday at 11:45 a.m. ET (8:45 a.m. PT) in the Grand Final.
The boat started off the day in the first I Eight heat, where it battled neck-and-neck with the crew from Virginia for the entire 2,000 meters. The boats were less than a second apart at each checkpoint (every 500 meters), with Stanford holding a slim advantage over the first three-quarters of the race. Yet in the final sprint Virginia managed to nose ahead just enough to clip the Cardinal by six-hundredths of a second in a time of 6:15.53. Despite the setback, Stanford's time of 6:15.59 and its second-place effort still advanced it to the Grand Final. The boat's time was also the third-fastest of the semifinal round, as California posted the day's fastest at 6:12.87.
In the next class, it was the II Eight's time to shine, roaring out of the gate in the second semifinal and taking a nearly two-second lead over the next boat, Washington, after 500 meters. The lead grew to just over three seconds by the final sprint, where the Huskies staged one final rally, but it was not enough as the Cardinal crew successfully weathered the challenge and crossed the line first with a time of 6:27.08. That time was 1.53 seconds ahead of Washington and went down as the fastest semifinal time of the day among the II Eight crews.
The II Eight Grand Final is set to get off at 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT) Sunday morning.
With two boats in the Grand Finals, once again all eyes turned to the Four to complete the Cardinal trifecta for the day. Despite having to race twice Friday just to earn a spot in the semifinal round, and having only one shot to advance today, the Four took the challenge in stride, taking third in the second semifinal to give Stanford three boats in Sunday's Grand Finals.
The Four opened its semifinal in second position, just behind Wisconsin, and held that spot over the first half of the race. Despite California taking over the two spot by the 1,500-meter mark, Stanford kept its cool and focused on holding off the surging Ohio State boat that trailed the Cardinal by just 0.29 of a second with 500 meters remaining. In that final sprint, the Cardinal crew would exceed the Buckeyes' effort, stretching its advantage to 1.37 seconds at the final line, clocking a time of 7:18.58, just 3.23 seconds back of Wisconsin.
The Four will now reverse course by leading off the day's competition on Sunday, being the first Grand Final of the Division I competition and set for a 10:15 a.m. ET (7:15 a.m. PT) start.