REDWOOD SHORES, Calif. – The Stanford women’s rowing team began its spring season on Saturday with the PAC-12 Challenge in Redwood Shores, Calif.
The Cardinal raced against No. 3 Virginia in the morning and No. 16 Louisville in the early evening to give them a difficult first two opponents. Add in steady rains throughout the day and the team coming off a hard training session over the school’s spring break and it made for a good early test for Stanford.
“This is the most difficult racing schedule I’ve put together in my time at Stanford,” said head coach Yasmin Farooq. “This team is definitely up for the challenge and will continue to gain speed as we go.”
In the morning, Stanford handed Virginia its first loss in any race this season. The Varsity Four made up of coxswain Katie Lopez, Emily Grundman, Simone Jacobs, Reilly Hayes and Ellie Parker clocked a time of 7:27.83 to win by 2.2 seconds.
“We’re all really proud of what the four did today,” said Farooq. “They locked into their plan and literally dictated that race with their leg drive. They are a young lineup that rowed with a great deal of maturity and poise.”
After falling behind early in the race, the varsity four slowly gained momentum and was able to gain an advantage with each stroke. After building a lead, they held off Virginia near the finish line.
“Our coaches had us prepared to hold off their push at the end through workouts we have been doing all year,” said Grundman. “We came out with a lot of adrenaline and fell behind three seats. We buckled down, built a base and built a pace. We knew we had all the tools we needed to maintain our lead once we got it.”
Virginia took the other three races against Stanford, winning the varsity eight, second varsity eight and second varsity four battles.
“Against UVA both eights went off the line at too high of a rate and wasted a lot of energy,” said Farooq. “They paid for it later in the race, but it was a good first race experience. No disrespect to UVA who rowed solid and fast races in the 1V8 and 2V8 events. I’m glad we had the opportunity to race them now.”
Stanford learned from its early mistakes and came back strong against Louisville later in the day. In a matchup between the Cardinal and Cardinals, Stanford traded the “S” for a “W” as they claimed victories in three of the four races.
The varsity four stayed hot from the big morning win, finishing 25 seconds in front of Louisville’s boat. The Stanford lineup improved their time by one second from its first race.
“Our lineup was put together recently, so we have been developing our rhythm in order to have consistency in our pull,” said Grundman. “We made sure we had a unified goal of giving it all we had to hopefully come out with a win. Luckily it all came together to synthesize in an awesome day."
The varsity eight and second varsity eight also captured wins over the Cardinals, while improving their times from the first race of the day. The varsity eight beat Louisville by 4.5 seconds while the second varsity eight had a 3.6 second advantage. Louisville took the second varsity four race to end the day’s competition.
Rowing on the second varsity four against Louisville was Stanford swimmer Andi Murez, who is a two-time NCAA Champion and school record holder in two events. Despite rowing on the water just 10 times, Murez earned her way into Saturday’s lineup via an impressive performance during erg testing. Several athletes who have had no rowing experience have gone on to be key contributors for Farooq at Stanford, including Grundman and Parker in today’s varsity four.
The tough schedule continues next Saturday, April 5 at the Oregon State Classic on Dexter Lake in Eugene, Ore.
Redwood Shores, Calif.
March 29, 2014
Second Varsity Eight
1. Virginia – 6:38.31
2. Stanford – 6:42.52
Coxswain – Liza Gurtin, Amanda Lorei, Valerie Frank, Courtney Carrabino, Christina Bax, Kristy Wentzel, Meredith Fischer , Chierika Ukogu, Nancy Miles