May 30, 2009
CHERRY HILL, N.J. - The Yale women's crew has put itself in excellent position to challenge for the team title at the NCAA Rowing Championships. The Bulldogs had top-three finishes in all three semifinal events on Saturday. As a result, all three Yale boats have qualified for Sunday's Grand Finals. The varsity four placed second in its semifinal, while the varsity eight and second varsity eight each finished third. California, Stanford and Virginia are the only other schools with three boats in the Grand Finals.
"This is the deepest championship field I've seen at NCAA's so it is a testament to our program that we were able to get all three boats into the Grand Finals," said Yale Head Coach Will Porter.
The last time Yale had three boats qualify was in 2004 when the Bulldogs ended up second, their best finish.
The varsity eight of coxswain Berkley Adrio, Taylor Ritzel, Cara Dermody, Tess Gerrand, Maren McCrea, Caroline Nash, Christina Person, Alice Henly and Christine Glandorf had the most difficult route to the finals. A mishap in the first semifinal and then a false start at the start of the race made for a nerve-racking beginning for the Bulldogs.
"I think the false start was actually good for us," said Ritzel, who sits in the No. 8 seat. "It helped relieve some of the pressure and gave us a chance to get in a few practice strokes."
Yale trailed only California at the midway point but was overtaken by Princeton by the 1500-meter mark. Cal cruised to a nearly five-second victory, finishing with an impressive time of 6:12.87. Princeton was second in 6:17.03, and the Bulldogs crossed the line in 6:18.32, more than two seconds faster than fourth-place USC.
"We're still working to improve," Ritzel said. "I was really impressed by the other boats. It was a really fast heat."
Yale will seek its third straight NCAA varsity eight title when it races California, Princeton, Virginia, Stanford and Brown on Sunday in the Grand Final at 11:45 a.m.
"The varsity eight still hasn't rowed their best piece," Porter said. "I think it will be anybody's race, and I wouldn't rule us out."
The second varsity of coxswain Mia Kanak, Emily Matykiewicz, Allix Wilde, Dara Dickson, Armine Afeyan, Alexandra Thompson, Lauren Richards, Rebecca Nadal and Lee Glandorf led after 500 meters but was overtaken by Brown and Virginia by the halfway mark. The Bears finished first in 6:28.85, less than a second faster than UVA. The Bulldogs had a comfortable nine-second advantage over fourth-place Ohio State.
"The second varsity rowed a gutsy race," Porter said.
Yale races Brown, Virginia, Stanford, Washington, and California in the Grand Final on Sunday at 11 a.m.
The varsity four of coxswain Sarah Brownlee, Mary Pat Wixted, Elizabeth McDermott, Stephanie Madner and Karrin Weisenthal was involved in the most exciting race of the day. The top four boats were separated by just three seconds. Clemson led from the start and finished in 7:16.17, a little over a second better than the Bulldogs (7:17.50). Virginia (7:18.28) edged out Washington (7:19.17) for third place.
Yale races Clemson, Virginia, Wisconsin, California and Stanford in the Grand Final at 10:15 a.m.
"Our varsity four has been doing a great job," Porter said. "The six boats in the final all were within three seconds of each other in the semifinals, so it should be an exciting race."
Varsity Eight Semifinal
1. California 6:12.87
2. Princeton 6:17.03
3. Yale 6:18.32
4. USC 6:20.69
5. Michigan State 6:24.44
6. Ohio State 6:29.45
Second Varsity Eight Semifinal
1. Brown 6:28.85
2. Virginia 6:29.75
3. Yale 6:31.92
4. Ohio State 6:40.45
5. Michigan 6:44.39
6. USC 6:47.88
Varsity Four Semifinal
1. Clemson 7:16.17
2. Yale 7:17.50
3. Virginia 7:18.28
4. Washington 7:19.17
5. Harvard 7:30.75
6. Brown 7:31.69
Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity