May 25, 2007

Varsity Eight Wins Heat On Opening Day Of NCAA Championships

May 25, 2007

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OAK RIDGE, Tenn. - Yale's undefeated varsity eight earned a berth in Saturday's semifinals by winning its heat on the opening day of the NCAA Championships on Melton Hill Lake. The Bulldogs finished the 2000-meter course in 6:33.40, nearly two seconds ahead of second-place Notre Dame. Yale's second varsity placed third in its heat with a time of 6:53.71, and the varsity four was second in 7:33.20. Both the second varsity and varsity four will race in Saturday's repechage.

"As a team we raced really well," Yale Head Coach Will Porter said. "We want to build off of the momentum. Our goal is to get all three boats into the Grand Final."

The varsity eight, which was the top seed in its heat, led from start to finish. The Bulldogs were ahead by one second halfway through the race, and extended it to nearly three seconds after 1,500 meters.

"We did what we wanted to do," said stroke Rachel Jeffers, the team captain. "We had a good base rhythm and were in a good position to win."

Joining Jeffers in the varsity boat were Tess Gerrand, Christine Geiser, Jamie Redman, Taylor Ritzel, Amanda Rich, Alice Henly, Christine Glandorf and coxswain Emily Cleveland.

"The varsity needed to get a race under its belt. It's been awhile since we raced," said Porter, whose team last competed at Eastern Sprints on May 13. "We were able to identify soft spots, and we will work to improve."

Notre Dame and Dartmouth also earned a spot in the semifinals from Yale's heat. Brown, Virginia and Harvard qualified in the first heat, and USC, Minnesota and Ohio State were the top three finishers in the third heat. Stanford, Tennessee and Princeton earned the final three spots in the semifinals from the repechage on Friday afternoon.

The top three finishers in the semifinals qualify for Sunday's Grand Final.

"We're fit enough to race hard three days in a row," Cleveland said. "We know there are more challenges ahead."

The second varsity of Jennie Hansen, Cara Dermody, Maren McCrea, Suzanne Salgado, Christina Person, Milica Vujovic, Hayley Johnson, Lee Glandorf and coxswain Erin Haber got off to a strong start and had the lead at the midway point. Brown, though, picked up its stroke and grabbed the lead with 500 meters left. The Bears finished in 6:47.47, followed by Minnesota, which came in at 6:50.97.

"We had a really strong first 1,000 meters. We just need to work to extend on how we start," Hansen said. "We've been working really hard racing against the varsity. This is a fresh start for us."

A top two finish in the repechage would earn Yale a spot in the Grand Final.

"The second varsity is really getting better and gaining speed," Porter said. "I believe if they can get into the Grand Final, the sky is the limit."

In the varsity four heat, Brown grabbed the early lead and won by nearly four second to earn a berth in Sunday's Grand Final. The Bulldogs held off a late charge from Princeton to place second. In the boat for Yale were Karrin Weisenthal, Caroline Berson, Rebecca Nadal, Katherine Kazimer and coxswain Berkley Adrio.

"They raced a very composed race," Porter said. "As they showed at Sprints, they are capable of an explosion."

The Bulldogs will race in the repechage on Saturday and a top two finish will earn them a berth in the Grand Final.

"There's a lot of speed out there, but we don't feel like anything is out of reach," said Berson, who had raced the Oak Ridge course in high school. "If we row the way we are capable of, we'll be fine."

Racing gets underway on Saturday at 8 a.m.

Day 1 Final Results:

Varsity Eight, Heat 2

1. Yale 6:33.40
2. Notre Dame 6:35.67
3. Dartmouth 6:35.90
4. Stanford 6:36.12
5. Tennessee 6:41.36
6. Princeton 6:51.07

Second Varsity Eight, Heat 2

1. Brown 6:47.47
2. Minnesota 6:50.97
3. Yale 6:53.71
4. Ohio State 6:55.04
5. Tennessee 6:55.29
6. Notre Dame 7:12.02

Varsity Four, Heat 2

1. Brown 7:29.65
2. Yale 7:33.20
3. Princeton 7:35.59
4. California 7:37.69
5. Notre Dame 7:43.41
6. Ohio State 7:48.24

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity

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