May 29, 2009
Camden, N.J. - The Brown women's crew wrapped up an impressive first day at the NCAA Championships on Friday, qualifying all three boats for the semifinals on Saturday morning. The varsity eight, second varsity eight, and varsity four will each have the opportunity to race their way into the grand finals by finishing in the top three tomorrow.
The day started with the varsity eights, an event in which Brown drew a tough heat, needing to finish in the top half to move directly to the semifinals. Wisconsin and Cal jumped out early, taking a quick lead over the rest of the field. The Bears came out rowing high at 38 beats per minute, and began moving back though, pushing past Wisconsin to sit in second behind Cal at the 500 meter mark. Bruno continued rowing well, and moved into a heat with the Bears from California around midway through. With both teams comfortably in position to qualify for the semis, Cal edged out in the third 500 and held on to a slim margin, crossing the line at 6:29.4. Brown followed with a time of 6:32.8, with Michigan State well behind in third at 6:40.4
Next up was the second varsity eight, which turned in an even more impressive performance. Racing in a six-boat heat, a slight disadvantage as the other heats had only five entries, the Bears got the early lead and held on for a decisive victory. Brown jumped off the line at a 38 ½ rating, and was up on the field by seven seats at the 750 meter mark. A contingent from the Big 10 fought hard for the second and third spots, with the trio of Michigan, Michigan State, and Wisconsin trying to catch the Bears, but Bruno was able to hold on down the stretch. Brown crossed the line with a 5-seat lead and a time of 6:42.9, followed by Michigan State at 6:44.2, Michigan at 6:44.6, and Wisconsin at 6:47.0. With the win, the Bears became the second Brown boat to move directly to the semis.
The varsity four was the final event of the day for the Bears, and Bruno looked to be in good shape to move on as well, rowing second for the majority of the heat. However, with just under 200 meters to go, the Bears experienced some medical issues, as one of the rowers passed out in the Camden heat. Though Brown finished strong, still edging Dartmouth for fifth, they would need to go through the afternoon reps to advance.
In their second race of the day, the Bears quickly proved that they belonged in the next round, taking the early lead with Stanford. Though the Cardinals slowly pulled away by the 1,000 meter mark, Brown continued to row comfortably in second, and finished solidly ahead of third-place USC. Stanford won the race with a time of 7:24.4, with Brown at 7:27.3 and USC at 7:29.1. Princeton, Oregon State, Dartmouth, and Michigan State rounded out the rep, and will move directly to the third-level finals.
The Bears will be back in action tomorrow morning, when all three boats will be racing in the semifinals beginning at 9:00 a.m.