Stanford Advances Three Boats To Saturday's NCAA Semifinals
May 28, 2010
GOLD RIVER, Calif. - Stanford's repeat national title hopes remained alive Friday at the NCAA Women's Rowing Championships at Lake Natoma, as all three Cardinal boats advanced to Saturday's semifinals. The Cardinal I and II Eights each claimed victories in their respective opening heats while the Four bounced back from a fourth-place preliminary heat finish to claim a semifinal bid by winning the afternoon's repechage.
The I Eight class will begin Saturday's semifinal action, with semifinal races set for 9 and 9:15 a.m. That will be followed by II Eight semifinals at 9:30 and 9:45 a.m., and the Four semifinals at 10 and 10:15 a.m. The top three boats in each semifinal will advance to its respective class' Grand Final on Sunday morning.
Stanford's defending NCAA champion I Eight boat opened up the day for the Cardinal, taking part in its class' second heat. The Cardinal opened the race in second position behind Yale and trailed the Bulldogs by nearly a boatlength by the halfway point. Yet the Cardinal continued to close in on the Bulldogs, and in the final 500 meters sprinted past Yale to win the heat with a time of 6:16.81, breaking the course record it set at last year's Pac-10 Championships by just under two seconds.
That time would also stand as the fastest I Eight time among the three heats, just ahead of Yale's 6:17.22 and Virginia's winning time of 6:17.51.
The II Eight, coming off of its first-ever Pac-10 gold medal two weeks ago, showed that its win on the same Lake Natoma course was no fluke, leading wire-to-wire in its heat and cruising into the semifinal round. The boat, which took home an NCAA bronze medal last year, was trailed closely by California throughout the 2,000-meter course but pulled away enough to defeat the Golden Bears by just over a boatlength with a time of 6:30.44.
Stanford's II Eight time was also the fastest in its class, over two seconds ahead of Brown's winning time of 6:32.80 in the third heat.
The third heat of the Fours competition got off to a furious start, as the Cardinal crew found itself among a group of four boats separated by just a second and a half after the opening 500 meters. Stanford, Princeton, Brown and Wisconsin tangled for the three top spots, which would ensure quick passage to the semifinals and avoid the repechage. Eventually Wisconsin would separate itself just enough to grab a 2.5-second win, but the key chase saw the Cardinal, Tigers and Bears fighting for second and third place. Hanging in fourth by less than a second entering the final 500 meters, Stanford would be unable to catch Princeton for third place, coming in 2.26 seconds back of the Tigers and being sent to the repechage for one last chance to reach the semifinal round.
In the repechage later in the afternoon, where the top three boats in the field of seven would advance to the semifinals, Stanford made good use of its second chance. The Cardinal led after the first 500 meters and slowly began to put distance between it and second-place Michigan State. Stanford would maintain its hold on first place the rest of the way, crossing the line with a time of 7:37.67, just over two seconds ahead of second-place Clemson.