May 31, 2009
Camden, N.J. - The Brown women's crew wrapped up competition at the 2009 NCAA Championship on Sunday morning, finishing fifth overall in the country. The Bears turned in solid performances across the board, as each of their three boats finished in the top-10 nationally, completing another impressive season for the team, which was the two-time defending NCAA champion.
The varsity four led off the morning's competition, racing in the petite final. Brown made the most of its opportunity, rowing high off the start to grab a slim early lead. With both Ohio State and Southern California pushing hard to get to the front, the Bears found themselves in third at the midway point. However, Bruno continued to push the pace in the second half, bumping the rating to 38 strokes per minute with 600 meters to go, and came back to finish a close second in their final, putting them eighth overall. Ohio State won the petite final with a time of 7:27.1, with Brown at 7:28.1 and third-place finisher Washington at 7:30.7.
Next up was the second varsity eight in the grand final, with the opportunity to finish in the top-six in the country. Once again the Bears jumped off the line at a 44 rating, and hung with the leaders through the first 250 meters. However, Stanford and Cal slowly began edging out, and shared a small advantage after 500 meters. That margin continued to hold through the halfway mark, with Washington moving into third and the other three teams fighting it out for fourth. In the third 500 though, Yale began a strong push, and moved into the lead by the final quarter of the race. With all six teams separated by a thin margin and fighting to move up, Yale held on to win by an extraordinarily small distance, finishing at 6:29.0. Cal was second at 6:29.6, with Stanford and Brown at 6:31.9 and 6:32.9 respectively. Washington and Virginia rounded out the field.
The final event of the day was, incredibly, even more exciting than the previous one, as all six crews in the grand final gave everything they had chasing the gold medal. Cal and Princeton both went high off the start, grabbing a small lead with ratings near 50. However, Stanford then moved into first with a strong settle, and moved out to lead by half a length at the 500 meter mark. The rest of the field, including Brown, remained deadlocked for the first half of the race, with little separating them passing the 1000 meter point. Virginia began charging in the second half though, beginning to put pressure on Stanford. The Bears also made an attempt to get back into the action, but struggled to find their rhythm to mount a comeback. In one of the closest varsity eight races ever, Stanford just edged out a win, finishing at 6:12.0. Virginia followed just on the heels of the Cardinals, crossing the line at 6:12.3, while Cal nabbed a bronze with a time of 6:14.8. Yale was fourth at 6:17.2, while Brown finished fifth in an extremely fast final at 6:18.1, and Princeton rounded out the event at 6:24.0.
By virtue of the strong finish in the varsity eight, Brown also moved into fifth place in the team standings, with 71 points overall. Stanford won the team title with 88 points, followed by Cal and Yale at 85 each, as Cal took second on a tie-breaker. Virginia was fourth, just seven points ahead of Bruno at 78. The Bears were well ahead of the remainder of the field, however, as the sixth-place crew, Michigan State, had just 54 points.