Varsity Eight Earns Semifinal Spot After Thrilling Rep

Varsity eight (Tim Bennett photo)

Yale Earns Final Spot ByThree-One-Hundreths Of A Second

WEST WINDSOR, N.J. – It certainly wasn't the easy way, but the Yale varsity eight is in the semifinals at the 2012 NCAA Championship. The Bulldogs earned the final spot by finishing third in the afternoon repechage. Yale crossed the line in 6:51.20, three-one-hundreths of a second faster than fourth-place Michigan State.

"It's consistent with the kind of year we've had. Everything has been difficult," said Yale head coach Will Porter.

The challenges started in the fall at the Head of the Charles when the varsity eight was blocked by a slower crew, and they have continued this spring, which has featured a photo-finish loss to Dartmouth, a disappointing performance against Ohio State and Michigan and narrowly missing a medal at the Ivy League Championship.

"That's what's remarkable about this crew. They've never quit," Porter said.

The crew of coxswain Christine Devlin, Elizabeth McDermott, Nina Demmerle, Dara Dickson, Armine Afeyan, Natalie King, Maddie Lips, Eliza Hastings and Catherine McDermott got off to a great start in the repechege and had the lead after 500 meters.

Nevertheless, it got scary at the end. Stanford used a strong push midway through to grab the lead and finished first in 6:47.31. Cornell was second in 6:50.28, less than a second faster than the Bulldogs, who held off Michigan State (6:51.55) and Brown (6:52.46).

Yale had finished a disappointing fifth in its morning heat.

The Bulldogs now have all three crews in the semifinals. Both the second varsity eight, which finished third, and the varsity four, which placed second, qualified in the morning.

"It's the first step," Porter said. "This regatta is a marathon."

The varsity eight will be the first to race on Saturday, facing Princeton, Michigan, Ohio State, Washington and UCLA at 9:15 a.m.

At 9:45 a.m. the second varsity eight races Stanford, Washington, Michigan, Ohio State and UCLA.

Finally, the varsity four rows Notre Dame, Radcliffe, Washington, California and Michigan at 10 a.m.

The top three finishers in each heat advance to Sunday's grand final. The rest race in the petite final.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity