Yale Varsity Eight Sets Course Record; Qualifies For Grand Final At NCAA Championships

Varsity eight races with Coach Will Porter looking on from shore (Tim Bennett photo)
Varsity eight races with Coach Will Porter looking on from shore (Tim Bennett photo)

Second Varsity Eight; Varsity Four Advance To Petite Final

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GOLD RIVER, Calif. – If the semifinals are any indication, Sunday's varsity eight grand final at the NCAA Championships should be memorable. Less than four seconds separated the top-five semifinal times. Yale figures to be right in the mix. The Bulldogs won their semi, finishing with a course record time of 6:16.54, which was just four-tenths-of-a-second faster than second-place California and a little more than a second better than third-place Virginia.

“It should be anybody's race,” said Yale head coach Will Porter. “I think there are at least five crews that could win.”

Princeton (6:18.76), Stanford (6:20.12) and USC (6:24.01) advanced from the second semifinal. The grand final is set for 11:45 a.m. PDT on Sunday.

After allowing Stanford to overtake them late in the opening heat on Friday, the Bulldogs used a strong finish to win their semifinal. Yale was third with 500 meters to go but rallied to overtake both California and Virginia.

“I liked the way we raced,” Porter said. “We didn't get flustered by the intensity. It will take that kind of performance [in the grand final].”

Yale will be looking to win its third NCAA varsity eight title in the last four years.

In the boat for the Bulldogs is Dara Dickson, Stephanie Madner, Catherine Hart, Caroline Nash, Maren McCrea, Alice Henly, Tess Gerrand, Taylor Ritzel and coxswain Mia Kanak.

“It's going to be a high-paced race,” Porter said of the grand final. “We're going to have to stay calm and look for an opening.”

Yale's second varsity and varsity four both advanced to the petite final by virtue of sixth-place finishes in their respective semifinals. The second varsity of Catherine McDermott, Mary Jo Toothman, Kathryn D'Andrea, Natalie King, Armine Afeyan, Kathleen O'Keefe, Allix Wilde, Eliza Hastings and coxswain Sarah Brownlee had a time of 6:46.82. Brown, Virginia and California were the top three finishers and move on to the grand final.

“I'm a little disappointed that the second varsity wasn't able to stay in the race, but tomorrow is a new day and they have to learn to come back,” Porter said. “I expect them to stay in the mix [on Sunday] and race to their potential.”

The second varsity will race at 10:45 a.m. on Sunday.

The varsity four of Amanda Grady, Alexandra Fields, Elizabeth McDermott, Mary Pat Wixted and coxswain Erica Segall was third after 500 meters. Stanford and Brown overtook them at the midway point, and the Bulldogs couldn't recover.

“They are learning,” Porter said of his varsity four that has only one senior in it. “Racing crews of this caliber is a good lesson for them.”

The varsity four petite final is scheduled for 10  a.m.

Video of Sunday's races is available here.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity