May 27, 2011
GOLD RIVER, Calif. - Stanford women's rowing did things the easy way at the NCAA Championships Friday morning, advancing all three boats into Saturday's semifinal races following top-three finishes in the qualifying heats.
The I and II Eights captured their heats to start the day, with the Four finishing third in its heat to avoid the afternoon repechage and advance straight to the semifinals.
The top three boats in each of Friday's heats, through all classes, advanced straight to the semifinals. Any boat outside of the top three must race in Friday afternoon's repechage heats for a final chance to qualify for the semifinals.
The I Eight led things off with the top finish in its qualifying heat, crossing the line in 6:23.67, over five seconds better than the next finisher, USC. The Cardinal opened the race in second position behind the Trojans but had pulled even by the halfway point. Stanford would take the lead for good over the third 500 before extending the lead by the finish line. Stanford's final time would stand as the second-fastest of the day for its class, just over a second behind Brown's time of 6:22.48 in the first heat.
Next up was Stanford's II Eight, the two-time defending Pac-10 champion and NCAA silver medalist last year. The II Eight flexed its muscle right away, leading by five seconds after the first 500 meters of its heat. From there, the crew extended its lead into open water before crossing the line with a time of 6:32.09, the best time of the day for its class by over four and a half seconds.
Key to a solid ending for the Cardinal Friday would be the Four avoiding a repeat of last season's championships, in which it failed to qualify in the morning and was forced to race twice in one day to qualify for the semifinals.
The Four opened the race in third position after the first 500 meters and continued to hold a tenuous lead over fourth-place Michigan for the third and final automatic qualifying spot at the halfway point. But heading into the second half of the race, the Cardinal found a second gear, pulling away from the Wolverines and closing in on second-place USC. By the end of the course, the Cardinal had finished comfortably in third place with a time of 7:27.12,, over eight and a half seconds ahead of fourth-place Brown and just 0.44 seconds back of USC. The time would also stand as the seventh-fastest in its class on Friday.
Stanford will continue action at the NCAA Championships beginning Saturday morning in the semifinal rounds. The I Eight semifinals will go off at 9 a.m. and 9:15 a.m., the II Eight races will start at 9:30 a.m. and 9:45 a.m., and the Four semifinals are set for 10 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. starts.
Stanford's Boat Lineups For The NCAA Championships