May 29, 2009
NCAA Championships Central
CHERRY HILL, N.J. - It took an extra race, and probably one more than the Cardinal had intended to race Friday, but the Stanford women's rowing team still advanced all three boats to Saturday's semifinal at the NCAA Championships at Cooper River Park in Cherry Hill, N.J. The I Eight and II Eight Cardinal crews advanced via top-three finishes in their respective morning heats, while the Four, after missing an automatic berth by one spot in its first heat, stormed back to win its repechage and earn a place in the semifinals.
Stanford also heads into Saturday's competition as one of 10 teams out of the 16-team field that qualified all three boats for the semifinals.
Action continues for all three of Stanford's crews Saturday morning in the semifinals. The I Eight will open up action in the first semifinal at 9 a.m. ET (6 a.m. PT) while the II Eight will be part of the second semifinal in its class at 9:45 a.m. ET (6:45 a.m. PT) and the Four will get off in the second semifinal of its class at 10:15 a.m. ET (7:15 a.m. PT). Each class will have two semifinals, with the top three boats of each race advancing to Sunday's Grand Final, and the fourth through sixth-place boats of each race moving to Sunday's Petite Final.
The top-ranked I Eight threw down the gauntlet to its opponents immediately as the Division I competition got underway Friday. In the first Division I event of the morning, the Cardinal blazed out to an early lead over Yale, Washington, Harvard and Ohio State and stretched its advantage into open water by the final 500 meters. Stanford crossed the line with a victorious time of 6:27.60, a number that was not only 4.7 seconds ahead of the next boat (Yale) but also held up as the fastest time of the day among the other 15 I Eight boats.
With the I Eight's ticket punched to Saturday's semifinals, the II Eight patiently awaited its chance in the second heat of the II Eight field. There, facing California, Yale, USC and Princeton, the Cardinal crew got off the line second behind the Golden Bears and, along with Yale, broke away from the USC and Princeton boats by the halfway mark of the 2,000-meter course. Yale would catch the Stanford boat after the first 500 meters, but the Cardinal would easily maintain its top-three position by crossing the line in 6:48.42, 5.5 seconds back of California and 4.12 seconds behind Yale.
The Four had a slightly more complicated path to navigate on its way to the semifinals, but nonetheless dug deep and battled its way into Saturday's next round. The Cardinal, rowing against Yale, Michigan, Washington, Brown and Dartmouth in the third heat, got off to a slow start, taking fifth position off the line. Stanford would remain in fifth for the bulk of the race, but over the final 500 meters would overcome the Brown boat that fell from second all the way down to fifth. Still, the fourth-place finish, in a time of 7:42.36, would be 9.64 seconds back of third-place Washington, and sent the Cardinal to the afternoon's repechage for a final chance to qualify for the semifinals.
There, Stanford responded in a big way to join the other two Cardinal crews in the semifinals. With seven boats vying for three remaining semifinal spots, the Cardinal Four pushed off to the lead and never looked back in the repechage. A lead of just under a second after 500 meters was stretched out to an advantage of three-plus seconds by the halfway point of the race, and Stanford would go on to clock a time of 7:24.40 to take the race and earn a semifinal berth. The time bested the second and third boats of Brown and USC by 2.92 and 4.68 seconds, respectively.