June 1, 2008
Gold River, CA - The Brown women's crew, the most successful crew in NCAA Women's Rowing history, defended its NCAA Championship title by rowing to a emotional victory at the 2008 NCAA Women's Rowing Championship on a sparkling day on Lake Natoma, near Sacramento, California, earning its sixth NCAA team title.
Coach John Murphy's women's crew has now won six national championships (1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2007 and 2008) and has placed in the top three in every NCAA Championship, a claim that no other team can make.
Brown, who won back-to-back NCAA titles for the first time since 1999 and 2000, claimed the team title by garnering 67 points overall, outdistancing Washington (59), Cal (53), Yale (51) and Virginia (47).
"This is a group who really likes to race," said Murphy. "Each of our six NCAA Champion crews is unique. I can't say enough about the determination of this team, and their hard work and dedication made them national champions."
The NCAA Rowing Championship usually comes down to the battle for the varsity eight Championship. This year didn't disappoint.
Brown held a slight two point lead on Washington heading into the varsity eight grand final, a six point advantage over Virginia and an 11 point margin over Cal. It's usually the battle of the Bears at the NCAA Championship with the Brown Bears and Cal Bears each winning two national titles in the last four years. Brown and Cal actually tied for the team championship in 2006, but Cal won the tiebreaker.
The Bears' varsity eight knew what it need to do, and finished third in the grand finals, giving Brown 67 points for the championship and vaulting the crew into the national team championship. Brown rowed in 6:35.25, and was narrowly edged by Yale (6:34.05) and Stanford (6:34.95) in the final race of the day. Stanford set the pace for the majority of the race with Brown taking over second place with 500 meters remaining.
"This is the best feeling in the world," said Sarah Wu, Brown's varsity eight coxswain. "Our team was well prepared and every crew member put everything they had into every race."
Rowing in the Bears' varsity eight were coxswain Sarah Wu '08 (North Andover, MA), Corey Finnerty-Ludwig '09 (Seattle, WA), Hope Richardson '11 (Washington, D.C.), Aubrey Fitzpatrick '10 (Pennington, NJ), Hannah Malvin '10 (Pittsburgh, PA), Jessica Stage '09 (Alexandria, VA), Nicole McDonald '10 (San Francisco, CA), Lauren Libfraind '11 (Princeton, NJ) and Emma Olson '08 (New Haven, CT).
The long grind towards the national championship began for the Bears in September and continued into the first day of June, with early morning work-outs on the Seekonk River and especially long workouts on ergometers at the Marston Boathouse in India Park
Of the four previous national championships held at Lake Natoma, Brown had won the national title twice before, in 1999 and 2004.The Bears are one of just four teams to compete in every NCAA Championship since its inception in 1997.
The Brown varsity fours opened the racing by finishing third with a time of 7:30.00, picking up 10 big team points for the Bears. Washington placed first in the race in 7:24.84, and Virginia finished second in 7:26.49. Rowing for the bronze medal Brown fours were coxswain Ellie Smith '11 (Brookline, MA), Molly Getz '08 (Grosse Pointe, MI), Catherine Borders '11 (Winnetka, IL), Casey Kelsey '11 (Lyme, NH) and Julia Simmons '11 (Greenwich, CT).
"We really wanted to win this championship for John and Phoebe Murphy," said the coxswain, Smith. "We knew we needed to score points and our goal was to stay relaxed and focused. Our team is thrilled to win the team title."
The Bears' second varsity eight raced to a first place finish in a time of 6:42.42, winning the gold medal by more than two seconds over Ohio State, who rowed in 6:44.87, and Washington, who came in at 6:48.41. Brown never trailed in the race, holding a narrow lead after 500 meters and extending its lead to on second at the half way mark.
Rowing for Brown's victorious second varsity were coxswain Christina Caligiuri '09 (Columbus, OH), Corlis Gross '10 (Rumford, RI), Carly Traub '09 (North Eastham, MA), Sarah Palomo '10 (Northampton, MA), Vanessa Rathbone '08 (New Canaan, CT), Joanna Jacob '09 (Berkeley, CA), Libby Boghossian '09 (Jamestown, RI), Christine Flynn '08 (Darien, CT) and Anna Vresilovic '10 (Ardmore, PA).
"We knew we needed to win," said Caligiuri. "We got off to a faster start than we usually do, took the lead early and held it to the finish line. Winning back-to-back NCAA titles is pretty cool."
Coach Murphy's crew has also won a record four varsity eight championships, five second varsity eight championships and four varsity four titles.
2008 NCAA Rowing Championship Final Team Standings 1. BROWN 67 2. Washington 59 3. Cal 53 4. Yale 51 5. Virginia 47 6. Michigan St. 38 7. Ohio State 34 8. Washington St. 30 9. Harvard 26 10. Wisconsin 25 11. Tennessee 21 12. Princeton 17
Fours Grand Finals Washington 7:24.84 Virginia 7:26.49 Brown 7:30.00 Cal 7:33.41 Michigan St. 7:34.56 Yale 7:42.03
Second Varsity Grand Finals Brown 6:42.42 Ohio State 6:44.87 Washington 6:48.41 Virginia 6:49.88 Tennessee 6:51.60 Cal 6:52.15
Varsity Grand Finals Yale 6:34.05 Stanford 6:34.95 Brown 6:35.25 Cal 6:36.21 Washington 6:38.25 Michigan St. 6:40.26