INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – In its best finish since 2011, the Brown women's crew captured third place at the 2014 NCAA Division I Women's Rowing Championships at Eagle Creek on Sunday on the strength of a silver medal finish in the varsity eight race. The Bears checked in with 116 team points, trailing back-to-back national champions Ohio State (126) and second-place California (118).
"I thought the varsity rowed an incredible race," said Brown women's crew Head Coach John Murphy. "They did a great job and we're very happy. This regatta has the best crews and the competition is as tough as it's ever been."
Brown started the final day of championship competition with the varsity four grand final, finishing in fourth place with a time of 7:47.978. The Bears bolted off the starting line with a 1:54.587 time for the race's best split over the first 500 meters. Staying strong to hold first place through the 1,000-meter mark, Brown's high stroke rate gave way to the consistency of California and Stanford, who eventually overtook the Bears for first and second place, respectively. Virginia finished third, Washington took fifth and Southern California rounded out the grand final in sixth.
The Bears opened the second varsity eight grand final with a more conservative pace, but eventually finished sixth with a time of 7:09.554. A 1:44.110 split over the first 500 meters put Brown in fourth, leading Ohio State (1:44.204) and California (1:44.806), but the Buckeyes burst through the final 500 meters in 1:44.084 to seize first place with an overall time of 6:59.434. Princeton (second), Virginia (third), Stanford (fourth) and California (fifth) rounded out the second varsity standings.
Needing an exceptional performance to gain ground in the team standings, Brown's varsity eight rose to the challenge in the grand final. After falling off the lead through the 1,000-meter mark, the Bears surged over the home stretch to cross the line in second place in 6:48.471. Ohio State took first in 6:44.476, securing its second straight national title, while California, Washington, Michigan and Stanford finished behind Brown in the final race of the day.
"I wasn't really thinking about it as the last race of my college career," said senior co-captain Louise Breen (North Hampton, N.H.), who led Brown's inspired showing from the stroke seat of the varsity eight. "We were trying to think of it as being the best we could be and getting as many points as possible in each race."
Senior co-captain Camilla Polakoff (Berkeley, Calif.) expressed gratitude after four years with the program, acknowledging the strong upside of the returning underclassmen.
"To be part of a team that's been so successful, I've been truly grateful," Polakoff said. "Although we wanted to win the team championship, it's great to leave it on a high note for the younger generation to build off of in the future."
"I think we're in a good place," Murphy said. "We have an enormous number of returners. I'm looking forward to next September when we start up again."
Brown women's crew, winner of seven national championships, placed seventh at the national championships in 2013 and 14th in 2012 following a national title in 2011.
Team Standings (Top 10)
1. Ohio State 126
2. California 118
3. Brown 116
4. Stanford 110
5. Virginia 105
6. Princeton 102
7. Washington 101*
8. Michigan 101*
9. Notre Dame 81
10. Southern California 72
* Tie broken by place finish in V8
Ohio State 6:44.476
Ohio State 6:59.434
Southern California 7:56.865