May 26, 2012

Varsity Four Advances To Grand Final

Second Varsity Eight, Varsity Eight Set For Petite Finals

WEST WINDSOR, N.J. – The Yale varsity four will race for an NCAA championship. The Bulldogs finished second in their semifinal heat to advance to Sunday's grand final on Lake Mercer. The varsity eight and second varsity eight both failed to finish in the top three and will race in the petite finals.

Midway through its semifinal, it looked like the four would cruise into the finals. California, Yale and Radcliffe seemed to have a comfortable margin over the other three crews. Then, Washington made a big push. The Huskies managed to overtake Radcliffe but couldn't catch the Bulldogs.

California won with a time of 7:09.66, and Yale was second in 7:10.81. Washington (7:11.25) edged Radcliffe (7:12.16) by a little less than a second to earn the final spot. Notre Dame (7:21.20) and Michigan (7:31.25) finished well back.

The crew for Yale is coxswain Margaret Ayers, Amanda Grady, Georgia Separovich, Madeline Dinse and Kim Szokol.

"The four has been on track all season," said Yale head coach Will Porter. "Amanda and Georgia, the two seniors, have had their mind set on reaching the grand final since day one. Now let's see if they can crack the top three."

The Bulldogs race Washington, Virginia, Ohio State, California and Princeton for the NCAA title on Sunday at 10:25 a.m.

It is the fourth time in the last six years that Yale's four has reached the grand final.

The second varsity of coxswain Kristen Brownlee, Jen Stockwood, Claire Tolson, Kathleen O'Keefe, Amber Anderson, Kristina Wagner, Elizabeth Vincent, Nikki Grigg and Emily Tormey nearly joined the four in the grand finals. The Bulldogs finished fourth with a time of 6:36.16, a little more than a second behind third-place UCLA.

Michigan (6:29.71) cruised to a nearly four-second victory over Ohio State (6:33.28). The race for the final two spots was close throughout. There was only a four-second difference between second-place Ohio State and fifth-place Stanford.

"It was a great race," Porter said. "We have three kids who are rowing in the NCAAs for the first time. I thought they rowed a gutsy, gutsy race. They'll need to keep that up tomorrow."

In the petite finals at 10:55 a.m., Yale faces Washington, Stanford, Brown, Wisconsin and Southern California.

The varsity eight, which had to row twice on Friday to reach the semifinals, had a very difficult draw. Michigan (6:15.20), Princeton (6:17.40) and Washington (6:18.30) all advanced. The Bulldogs crossed the line in 6:26.80 to place sixth.

The crew for Yale is coxswain Christine Devlin, Elizabeth McDermott, Nina Demmerle, Dara Dickson, Armine Afeyan, Natalie King, Maddie Lips, Eliza Hastings and Catherine McDermott.

"We [the varsity eight] were seeded 12th so one of our goals was to try and better that, and we're on track to do that," Porter said. "We raced a good piece but got outmatched a bit at the start and in the sprint."

The Bulldogs race Cornell, Radcliffe, Ohio State, UCLA and Stanford in the petite finals at 11:45 a.m.

At last year's NCAA Championship, Yale had all three boats in the petite finals and placed 11th as a team.

"We have a chance to finish better than last year, which will create momentum," Porter said. "The goal is to get the program headed back in the right direction."

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity