Bulldogs Set For NCAA Championship

(photo by Don Clark,  Yale sports publicity)
(photo by Don Clark, Yale sports publicity)

Racing Begins With Friday Morning Heats

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Head coach Will Porter has been pleased with the progress his young women's crew has made during the course of the season. Porter, though, still doesn't believe the team has reached its full potential. The Bulldogs have one last opportunity to prove him correct when they head to the NCAA Championship this weekend on Lake Mercer in West Windsor, N.J.

Racing begins on Friday with the heats. The semifinals are set for Saturday and the finals are Sunday morning.

The Bulldogs, who are ranked 10th in the latest CRCA National poll, are coming off a third-place finish at the inaugural Ivy League Championship on May 13 after winning cups from Radcliffe and Brown in their final two regular season races.

"As a team, we do not think we raced well at the Ivy Championship," Porter said. "We were not at our best when our best was needed. It is a hard lesson to learn but an important one. At Ivies, there were four of five crews that I thought could win it. Whoever was going to win was going to have to be at their best, and Radcliffe did it. They rowed the race of their year. We faltered and paid the price."

The NCAA Championship offers the Bulldogs a shot at redemption. Yale has had success at the NCAAs recently, finishing in the top six in four of the last five years.

The varsity eight of coxswain Christine Devlin, Elizabeth McDermott, Nina Demmerle, Dara Dickson, Armine Afeyan, Natalie King, Maddie Lips, Eliza Hastings and Catherine McDermott will be the first to race on Friday in heat one at 9 a.m. The Bulldogs face Virginia, Washington, Radcliffe and Brown. The top three finishers automatically earn a spot in Saturday's semifinals.

The second varsity eight of coxswain Kristen Brownlee, Jen Stockwood, Claire Tolson, Kathleen O'Keefe, Amber Anderson, Kristina Wagner, Elizabeth Vincent, Nikki Grigg and Emily Tormey race in heat two at 10 a.m. against Michigan, Stanford, Virginia and Notre Dame.

The varsity four of coxswain Margaret Ayers, Amanda Grady, Georgia Separovich, Maddie Dinse and Kim Szokol  face Ohio State, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Brown and Southern California in heat three at 11 a.m.

"At NCAAs, there is no dominant crew or team. Teams that do well at NCAAs rise to the occasion," Porter said. "They are the athletes and teams who thrive under pressure. We have not done that well this year… yet. We are working towards it. All we have to do is race like we practice."

Yale is making its 12th overall appearance in the team championships. The Bulldogs' best finish came in 2004 when they were second. Yale has had one crew win a grand final four times. The varsity eight finished first in 2007, 2008 and 2010, and the second varsity won in 2009.

Brown is the defending champion. The Bulldogs placed 11th last year.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity