Varsity Eight, Varsity Four Qualify For Grand Final

May 26, 2007

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OAK RIDGE, Tenn. - Two Yale boats won races on day two of the NCAA Team Championships on Melton Hill Lake. The varsity eight cruised to a nearly three-second win in the first semifinal. The varsity four raced out to an early lead and held off a late charge from Washington to win the second repechage. Both boats qualified for Sunday's Grand Finals.

Yale's second varsity narrowly missed earning a berth in the Grand Final, finishing only .05 seconds behind second-place California. Only the top two finishers move on the Grand Final. The Bulldogs will race in the Petite Final.

Brown and Virginia are the only two teams to have all three of its boats in Grand Finals. A points system based on overall finishes from all three boats determines the NCAA team champion.

"We're in the hunt," said Yale Head Coach Will Porter. "It's a very competitive field, and we've shown that we can compete."

The undefeated varsity eight got the day off to a strong start. Yale led by nearly three seconds after 500 meters and never looked back. The Bulldogs completed the 2,000-meter course in 6:22.93. Brown was second in 6:25.50. Princeton (6:27.25) edged Harvard (6:27.62) for third place.

"That was the best start we've had all season," said senior Christine Geiser, who sat in the No. 6 seat.

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

"I'm very pleased with what they have done," Porter said. "There's one race to go, and they are almost at their top speed. [Sunday] is a chance to come out and nail it down."

The Bulldogs will race Princeton, Brown, USC, Ohio State and Virginia in Sunday's Grand Final, which is scheduled for 11:45 a.m.

"We'll see what happens [Sunday] when we'll really be challenged," Geiser said. "We have a really powerful final sprint, but we haven't had to use it yet."

The varsity four of Karrin Weisenthal, Caroline Berson, Rebecca Nadal, Katherine Kazimer and coxswain Berkley Adrio led by 1.5 seconds after 500 meters and increased the advantage to nearly 3.5 seconds at the 1,000-meter mark. The Bulldogs finished in 7:33.30, more than two seconds ahead of second-place Washington.

"We had a very strong first 500, which was exciting," said Weisenthal. "Our goal was to stay in front."

Princeton, California, Virginia, Brown and Washington will join Yale in the Grand Final, which is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.

"I'm excited for [Sunday]," Nadal said. "We just want to go out and race our race and stay calm."

The varsity four is trying to cap a remarkable postseason. The Bulldogs won the Grand Final at the Eastern Sprints two weeks ago by nearly 10 seconds.

"We knew we had the pieces. Something has just clicked," Weisenthal said.

It took a photo of the finish to determine who was second in Yale's second varsity repechage. After nearly 15 minutes, California learned it would move on to the Grand Final. The Bulldogs trailed Cal by more than a second at the 1,500-meter mark, but made a strong push over the final 500 meters. Yale finished in 6:42.78, while Cal came in at 6:42.22. Ohio State won with a time of 6:40.93.

In the boat for the Bulldogs were Jennie Hansen, Cara Dermody, Maren McCrea, Suzanne Salgado, Christina Person, Milica Vujovic, Hayley Johnson, Lee Glandorf and coxswain Erin Haber.

"They rowed really hard and had one of their better races of the season," Porter said. "The challenge for them is to come back and race with pride tomorrow. Their finish will have a direct result on where we finish as a team."

Yale races Notre Dame, USC, Tennessee, Harvard and Princeton in the Petite Final, scheduled for 10:45 a.m.

Saturday's races were delayed for one hour to clear debris from the course.

"We're a very laid back crew and were able to stay relaxed," said Cleveland, the coxswain for the varsity eight. "We went back to the hotel and watched a tape of the national team eight."

In Friday's spares race, the Yale tandem of Katherine Adams and Catherine Hart won their heat with a time of 7:35.9. Virginia (7:46.6) was second followed by Dartmouth (7:54.8).

NCAA Team Championships
Day 2 Results

Varsity Eight
Semifinal I

1. Yale 6:22.93
2. Brown 6:25.50
3. Princeton 6:27.25
4. Harvard 6:27.62
5. Dartmouth 6:30.47
6. Minnesota 6:30.72

Varsity Four
Repechege II

1. Yale 7:33.20
2. Washington 7:35.31
3. Minnesota 7:37.16
4. Notre Dame 7:46.61
5. Ohio State 7:46.90

Second Varsity Eight
Repechege I

1. Ohio State 6:40.93
2. California 6:42.22
3. Yale 6:42.78
4. Harvard 6:46.95
5. Princeton 6:59.13

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity