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UW Wins Second Eights & Varsity Four; Takes Third Overall At NCAAs

May 30, 2021

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Washington women's rowing team came three seconds and one team point of claiming the 2021 NCAA Championship Sunday. The Huskies, on the verge of a third NCAA sweep in the last four championships, and despite finishing in a three-way tie with Texas and Stanford atop the team points standings, finished third overall due to the tie-breaker: the order of finish in the varsity eight final.
Washington won national titles in both the second varsity eight and in the varsity four.
The Huskies, Longhorns and Cardinal each finished the regatta with 126 points, based on finishes in the three grand finals: the varsity eight, second varsity eight and the varsity four. Those three programs finished in the top three in each final, with Washington winning two.
But in the varsity eight grand final, the start of which was delayed for two hours due to lightning, Texas caught Stanford in the final 500 meters and won the race, with the Huskies finishing third. That resulted in the three-way tie on points. The NCAA tie-breaker is each team's finish in the varsity eight, giving the team championship to Texas and second place to Stanford.
"I'm really proud of the effort of all three of our boats," said Yasmin Farooq, who has four top-three finishes in four NCAA regattas as Washington's head coach. "At end of day, the varsity eight race should be what determines the national championship."
After wins in the two earlier grand finals, and with the varsity eight petite final (places 7-12) on the race course, lightning in the area forced a delay. The petite final was allowed to finish, but the six crews set to start the grand final only one or two minutes later were forced to return to the shore. All six boats were already aligned at the starting dock.
About two hours later, they were back at the start of the final race of the 2021 college rowing season.
All six shells broke from the start nearly even with one another, with Michigan and Washington slightly ahead of the others early on. Michigan crossed the 500-meter buoy with a very slight edge over UW and then Stanford. 
It remained close among those three as well as Texas until Stanford took over the lead. The Cardinal held the advantage at 1,000 and 1,500 meters, with the Huskies battling Michigan for third. 
Washington's late sprint wasn't enough to overcome either the Longhorns or the Cardinal, but Texas' late move was good enough to beat Stanford to the finish line.
"I was really proud of them for getting themselves in that race and getting in position to contend," UW head coach Yasmin Farooq said of her varsity crew, "but hats off to Stanford for taking a risk and taking their shot, and hats off to Texas for working through them and finding a way to cross the line first. They earned it."
The Longhorns finished the final in 6:17.387. Stanford's time was 6:18.891 and Washington finished in 6:21.715, a little over three seconds back of second. A second-place finish to Texas in the final would have been enough to give UW the team title. 
In the second varsity eight final, Texas jumped out to the early lead, and it was close between Stanford and Washington for second position. By 500 meters, Stanford had taken the lead, with Texas second and Washington third. That same order remained at 1,000 meters, but at the start of the third 500, the Huskies made a move and took over second from the Longhorns.
Still down nearly a length, Washington put on an epic sprint and managed to catch the Cardinal at the finish. The Huskies won by about three seats in a time of 6:23.232. Stanford was second in 6:24.482 and Texas came in third.
"It was an epic finish," said second varsity eight stroke rower McKenna Bryant. "We gave everything we could.
"We crossed the finish line and still had to check that we had it," she continued. "Our coxswain knew. She said we were to seats up, so she knew. We just never gave up, that's the thing. Three hundred meters to go and five seats down, and we said, 'No! We're going!"
"The thing that made their sprint so special was that they've been working on it all year," Coach Farooq said about the 2V8+ victory. "It's been kind of the weak part of their race plan – until today. They just persisted. They worked through Texas and when Stanford showed some vulnerability, they bit down and took their shot."
In the varsity four race, UW trailed early, though the top five boats were all in the hunt. At 500 meters, the Huskies started to come on, alternating the lead with Stanford and Texas with each stroke.
At 1,000 meters, the Huskies led the field by about one-and-a-half seconds. By 1,500 meters, Washington was up three seconds over Stanford.
"The plan was to go hard, and to go even harder and go for the home squad," said varsity four coxswain Sachi Yamamoto. 
At the end, the Huskies had to hold off a very strong challenge from the Cardinal, but won by a half-length. Washington's time was 7:02.172, while Stanford finished in 7:03.258. Texas was third.
"It was crazy," Yamamoto said of the finish in her race. "I saw that Stanford's bow ball was coming up to Sophia Chaffey, who was in our bow seat. I wasn't sure about the angle. For a second, I thought that we won, and for a second, maybe we didn't? We actually didn't know for about five minutes."
Washington's NCAA lineup included five women who returned for a fifth year: Tabea Schendekehl and Skylar Jacobson in the varsity eight; and coxswain Dana Brooks and rowers Lark Skov and Molly Gallaher in the second eight. During their time on the team, the Huskies won two NCAA team championships while taking second and third in two other regattas. 
Varsity Eight
Shell: Title IX Tenacity
Cox: Nina Castagna (Cincinnati, Ohio/Walnut Hills)
Stroke: Ella Cossill (Gold Coast, Australia)
7: Tabea Schendekehl (Dortmund, Germany)
6: Holly Dunford (Tadworth, England, U.K.)
5: Holly Drapp (Tampa, Fla./Strawberry Crest)
4: Isabel van Opzeeland (Hoofddorp, The Netherlands)
3: Angharad Broughton (Cardiff, Wales, U.K.)
2: Teal Cohen (Dallas, Texas/The Hockaday School)
Bow: Skylar Jacobson (Lakewood, Wash./Steilacoom)
Second Varsity Eight
Shell: Title IX Sisterhood
Cox: Dana Brooks (Tiburon, Calif./Redwood)
Stroke: McKenna Bryant (Kent, Wash./Kennedy Catholic)
7: Dimitra Tsamopoulou (Athens, Greece)
6: Molly Gallaher (Snoqualmie, Wash./Skyline)
5: Taylor Buell (Olympia, Wash./Capital)
4: Nikki Martincic (Newtown, Sydney, Australia)
3: Lark Skov (Steamboat Springs, Colo./Steamboat Springs)
2: Joïe Zier (Orcas Island, Wash./Orcas Island)
Bow: Brittani Shappell (Bellingham, Wash./Walworth Barbour)
Varsity Four
Shell: Wendell S. Sykes
Stroke: Carmen McNamara-Smith (Seattle, Wash./Center School)
3: Fiona Shields (Bainbridge Island, Wash./Bainbridge)
2: Katherine Slack (Everett, Wash./Kamiak)
Bow: Sophia Chaffey (Redmond, Wash./Bellevue Christian)
Cox: Sachi Yamamoto (Seattle, Wash./Franklin)
UW's All-Time NCAA Team Finishes
2021: 3rd
2019: 1st
2018: 2nd
2017: 1st
2016: 5th
2015: 4th
2014: 7th
2013: 6th
2012: 7th
2011: 8th
2010: 10th
2009: 7th
2008: 2nd
2007: 10th
2006: 7th
2005: 9th
2004: 5th
2003: 3rd
2002: 2nd
2001: 1st
2000: 2nd
1999: 3rd
1998: 1st
1997: 1st
UW's All-Time NCAA Boat Champions
Fours (stroke to bow, coxswain)
1999 (Erin Becht, Anna Mickelson, Kara Nykrein, Kellie Schenk, Mary Whipple)
2000 (Lauren Estevenin, Carrie Stasiak, Heidi Hurn, Adrienne Hunter, Anne Heisburg)
2001 (Margherita Pallottino, Yvonne Stenken, Kattie Baurichter, Teegan Simonson, Maili Barber)
2008 (Rachel Powers, Jennifer Park, Charlene Franklin, Adrienne Martelli, Maggie Cheek)
2017 (Valentina Iseppi, Valerie Vogt, Julia Paulsen, Sophia Baker, Marley Avritt)
2019 (Dimitra Tsamopoulou, Kieanna Stephens, Holly Drapp, Emma Vagen, Dana Brooks)*
2021 (Carmen McNamara-Smith, Fiona Shields, Katherine Slack, Sophia Chaffey, Sachi Yamamoto)
* - NCAA-record time for fours: 6:52.451
Second Eights (coxswain, stroke to bow)
2002 (Anne Hessburg, Jenni Vesnaver, Jessica Harm, Shannon Oates, Erin Becht, Sanda Hangan, Margherita Pallottino, Erin Curry, Mandy Nelson)
2017 (Isabella Corriere, Marlee Blue, Maggie Phillips, Carmela Pappalardo, Phoebe Spoors, Karlé Pittsinger, Bella Chilczuk, Anna Thornton, Calina Schanze)
2018 (Marley Avritt, Brooke Pierson, Katy Gillingham, Carmela Pappalardo, Karlé Pittsinger, Julia Paulsen, Jennifer Wren, Jessica Thoennes, Calina Schanze)
2019 (Amanda Durkin, Klara Grube, Lark Skov, Elise Bueke, Holly Dunford, Molly Gallaher, Mackenna Cameron, Skylar Jacobson, Adele Likin)*
2021 (Dana Brooks, McKenna, McKenna Bryant, Dimitra Tsamopoulou, Molly Gallaher, Taylor Buell, Nikki Martincic, Lark Skov, Joïe Zier, Brittani Shappell)
* - NCAA-record time for second eights: 6:11.262
First Eights (coxswain, stroke to bow)
1997 (Alida Purves, Sabina Telenska, Denni Nessler, Kelly Horton, Katy Dunnet, Annie Christie, Jan Williamson, Tristine Glick, Kari Green)
1998 (Missy Collins, Sabina Telenska, Denni Nessler, Kelly Horton, Katy Dunnet, Annie Christie, Rachel Dunnet, Vanessa Tavalero, Kari Green)
2001 (Mary Whipple, Lauren Estevenin, Nicole Borges, Anna Mickelson, Rika Geyser, Adrienne Hunter, Carrie Stasiak, Nicole Rogers, Annabel Ritchie)
2002 (Mary Whipple, Lauren Estevenin, Annabel Ritchie, Anna Mickelson, Heidi Hurn, Adrienne Hunter, Carrie Stasiak, Kara Nykreim, Yvonneke Stenken)
2017 (Phoebe Marks-Nicholes, Chiara Ondoli, Elise Beuke, Brooke Pierson, Katy Gillingham, Brooke Mooney, Tabea Schendekehl, Jessica Thoennes, Annemieke Schanze)
2019 (Marley Avritt, Tabea Schendekehl, Calina Schanze, Sofia Asoumanaki, Marlee Blue, Teal Cohen, Valentina Iseppi, Jennifer Wren, Carmela Pappalardo)*
* - NCAA-record time for first eights: 6:07.284
All-Time NCAA Rowing Team Championships
Brown – 7
Washington – 5
California – 4
Ohio State – 3
Virginia – 2
Texas – 1
Stanford – 1
Harvard – 1
All-Time NCAA Rowing Boat (V8+, 2V8+, V4+) Championships
Washington – 18
Brown – 14
Virginia – 9
California – 7
Ohio State – 6
Yale – 4
Princeton – 3
Michigan – 2
Stanford – 2
Texas – 1
Clemson – 1
Harvard – 1
Minnesota – 1
USC – 1
UW's Pre-NCAA (NCRC) Women's National Championships
Varsity Eight*
* V8+ winner was considered national champion prior to NCAA regatta
Junior Varsity Eight
Varsity Four