May 30, 2009
Camden, N.J. - The women's crew continued its quest for a third consecutive NCAA title on Saturday morning, qualifying two boats for the grand finals on Sunday. Both the first and second varsity eights finished in the top three of their semis, advancing them to the top berths tomorrow, while the varsity four will compete in the petite finals.
The first eight led off the racing in what would turn out to be a sloppy race for the field. After the race began as scheduled, the boats were called back to the starting line due to breakage in the Clemson boat. Following a delay of several minutes, the boats started for a second time, and were again called back because of a false start by an unidentified team. Finally, after a 30-minute delay, the race was underway for good on the third attempt.
Virginia and Stanford jumped out to the early lead, with Brown a little slow out of the blocks, rowing in fourth through the first 300 meters. However, the Bears then settled into a solid rhythm, and began moving back, pushing their way into third 500 meters in. The trio of Virginia, Stanford, and Brown then held their positions for the remainder of the race, steadily pulling away from the rest of the field. Though Michigan did attempt a late comeback, the Bears held them off with relative ease to clinch a spot in the grand finals. Virginia won the semifinal with a time of 6:15.5, with Stanford almost dead even at 6:15.6, and Brown in third at 6:23.2. Michigan led the rest of the field with a time of 6:26.9.
The second varsity eights were next up, and were able to go off on the first try without incident. Brown took the lead after the start, pushing out to a two-seat advantage, but Yale came charging back for a slim lead at the 500 meter mark. Midway through, it had the makings of a classic finish, as Brown and Yale were tied for the lead, with Ohio State and Virginia just a few seats down and pushing hard. However, shortly after the 1000 meter point, the Buckeyes caught a crab, moving them well back into the fourth spot. Yale also faded slightly in the second half, and the Bears made a charge to take a lead that they would not relinquish. Bruno went on to win with a time of 6:28.9, with Virginia second at 6:29.8 and Yale third at 6:31.9
The varsity four wrapped up the action for Brown, as the Bears squared off against some very tough competition in their semifinal. Though Bruno fought hard throughout, they appeared somewhat outmatched as the four fell behind early, and was unable to make up the gap. The Bears went on to finish sixth in their semi with a time of 7:31.7, putting them in the petite finals on Sunday. Clemson won the event in a tight-fought race.
The Bears will wrap up competition tomorrow morning, racing at 10:00, 11:00, and 11:45 a.m.