For the second time this season, the Radcliffe crews (which race as Harvard-Radcliffe at this championship by NCAA rule) took both the Varsity eight and the team points trophy (the previous occasion was the Eastern Sprints). In the V8 Grand, Harvard took a slight lead somewhere in the second 500, and despite never leading by more than ¾ length, in truth controlled the pace of the race from the lead, never permitting any real challenges to their position. Michigan rowed from fourth into second in the third 500, and Stanford rowed in almost every position but the lead during the course of the 2k, claiming the bronze in the final strokes of the race, followed by Washington, Virginia, and USC. If the pack came back on Radcliffe near the finish line, it was mainly because the fight for the silver and bronze medals was so tight; despite the brawl behind them, Radcliffe seemed to know they had it wrapped up.
(Taking the broad view, this wasn’t just Harvard’s day – it was Harvard’s weekend, month, year. On Saturday, the men took both the HW and LW eights at the IRA’s, as well as the Ten Eyck points trophy, and the LW women took the silver. At both the men’s and women’s Sprints, Harvard won open Varsity eights and the Rowe Cup and Willing Trophies, the HW men’s and women’s points trophies. Somewhere, a travel agent is hustling to get a lot of kids to Henley.)
A new look Brown eight, stroked by a former volleyball player who walked onto the squad in January of 2002, won the most blistering petite final in the history of the championships over Princeton, Ohio State, Cal, Yale, and Texas (who made their first appearance at Nationals this year – tremendous congrats to the Longhorns). The winning time for the petite final, which included two heat winners, bested that of the grand final by almost seven seconds; although we’ve noted here before that comparing petite finals and grand final times is not always a valid comparison, the times for these back to back races added fuel to the fire for many who have stated that the semifinals of a national championship should not have been run in near-swamping conditions on Saturday.
The Brown 2V took one of two Brown gold medals on the day with a commanding performance, rowing into the lead in the second 500 and never looking back to win by a length over Washington and Cal, followed by Princeton, Harvard, and Ohio State.
In the V4, a Brown crew with at least a couple members of the undefeated Brown frosh/novice eight moved into the Varsity four and continued their undefeated season; I believe they were the only DI rowers in the entire regatta to complete an undefeated season. Cal and Michigan took the silver and bronze medals, followed by Ohio State, Yale and Harvard.
UC Davis is building something of a dynasty in DII rowing, taking their second consecutive V8 championship by nearly five seconds over Western Washington, Humboldt State, and Mercyhurst, and the V4 by a whopping 12 seconds, running up the digits to take the points trophy as well, again for the second consecutive year.
Coxswain call of the day came in the DII Varsity Four; with about three lengths of open water separating the three crews in the event, a coxswain was heard to call “Ok, I want one seat, now. Give me one seat!” Nothing wrong with setting incremental goals; as all rowers know, seats soon add up to lengths if you let them.
Tremendous congratulations to the medal winners and all of the participants at this year’s nationals, which sported unquestionably the best collection of collegiate women’s crews in the history of the sport of rowing.