The final day of the NCAA Championships began with a strange sight - a glowing orb floating in the middle of the sky providing light to the venue. This strange object, which those in many parts of the world this weekend refer to as the “sun” finally made an appearance. The downside to the sun’s return was the direct crosswind that came with it. The course earned its nickname, “Windianapolis” or “Windy Indy”. Despite the constant crosswind blowing from lane 6 towards lane 1, these top athletes had little trouble traversing these challenging conditions today.
Many “firsts” took place at the 2013 NCAA Championships – today's first of which came on Sunday morning when Nova Southeastern started off the final day of competition with one more surprise. Coming into NCAAs, Barry was the heavy favorite in both DII events, however Nova SE had been nipping at their heels all season, and today Nova was able to get the better of Barry. NSU looked like a team on a mission this entire weekend, never moreso than today. Their varsity 4 took an early lead within the first few hundred meters of the race and kept pushing the gap down the entire course. By the time NSU hit the last 250 meters, their coxswain knew they had the win in hand. She pumped her fist and raised her hands as her crew crossed the finish line. Barry crossed the finish line soon after, in second, followed by Western Washington.
The V8 Grand final proved to be an epic battle until the last 250 meters. Off the line, Western Washington had the early lead, but Barry and Nova SE quickly overtook WWU. By the 250 meter mark, Nova SE had taken a two-seat lead over Barry, followed closely by WWU. 500 meters into the race, Nova pushed their lead out to three seats, but stalled there, and Barry began to reel their rivals back in. Closing stroke by stroke, Barry was able to pull even with Nova midway through the race. By the time both crews were within 500 meters of the finish, there was still no substantial separation between NSU and Barry. Nova had maintained a high stroke rate throughout the course, and the announcer questioned whether or not NSU would be able to maintain that pace. When the Sharks hit their sprint, they answered that question emphatically. Taking seat after seat with every stroke, NSU was able to generate an open water lead as they crossed the finish line.
After the race, head coach Stephen Frazier-Wong talked about the difference between today and when NSU and Barry met at the SSC Championships in Sarasota. “The difference today was that we peaked at the right time," he said. "It was a tossup. They (Barry) have been strong all year, and their level pushed our level. We would not be as fast and competitive as we were without them. It's a positive rivalry I think, and we got the best of them this time, but I wouldn't want to line up with them two hours from now!”
After yesterday’s heats, it looked as though today would be a battle of south Florida teams and that is exactly how the final panned out. "You know, it's really gratifying for the south and the south central region and Florida especially. We can row year round, the same as the West Coast. The West has been so dominant and strong, that we're really happy to show speed for the south central region and we're happy to represent in that way."
NSU was so excited about their victory that they walked straight through the Indy airport with their unis still on. They just won their first national championship, so let's we will let it slide. At least you can assume there was no need for a pat down by airport security.