May 27, 2007

NATIONAL CHAMPIONS! Varsity Eight Captures Grand Final

May 27, 2007

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OAK RIDGE, Tenn. - It was a glorious day for the Yale varsity eight on the final day of the NCAA Championships on Melton Hill Lake. The Bulldogs captured the national championship in a thrilling Grand Final, finishing the 2,000-meter course in 6:37.08, nearly two seconds ahead of second-place Ohio State. It is Yale's first national title at the NCAAs.

"I'm just so proud of these women," said Yale Head Coach Will Porter. "They held up under tremendous pressure coming in as the favorite."

The victory completes a dream season for the Bulldogs, who went undefeated and captured the Eastern Sprints and Ivy League titles. The perfect season was the Bulldogs' first since 1979, which was before the NCAA Championships began. Yale also won the national title that year, but racing was only 1,000 meters.

"It's been a great run," said senior Rachel Jeffers, the team captain and stroke of the varsity eight. "I couldn't have asked for a better experience. Today is icing on the cake."

Joining Jeffers in the varsity boat were Tess Gerrand, Christine Geiser, Jamie Redman, Taylor Ritzel, Amanda Rich, Alice Henly, Christine Glandorf and coxswain Emily Cleveland.

Yale and USC were virtually tied with 500 meters to go, but the Bulldogs edged out in front in the final 500 meters. Ohio State finished second in 6:38.77, followed by USC (6:39.45), Brown (6:39.55), Virginia (6:41.50) and Princeton (6:45.38).

"It was a really challenging race," said Geiser, a senior who sat in the No. 6 seat. "At the end of the race I had exerted so much energy I couldn't even remember my name."

The Bulldogs actually got off to a bit of a rocky start, nearly catching a crab (an oar blade getting stuck) out of the blocks. Still, Yale led at both the 500 and 1,000-meter marks.

"It was the worst start we've had all season, but we immediately refocused," said Cleveland, the coxswain. "At the end we just kept inching out and inching out."

As a team, Yale placed fourth with 51 points, the second best finish in school history. The Bulldogs were second in 2004. Brown won the team title with 58 points, followed by Virginia (54) and Ohio State (52).

"Anytime you finish in the top five at an NCAA Championship, you should be proud," Porter said.

In the varsity four Grand Final, Yale finished sixth with a time of 7:54.41. USC won in 7:44.06. In the boat for the Bulldogs were Karrin Weisenthal, Caroline Berson, Rebecca Nadal, Katherine Kazimer and coxswain Berkley Adrio.

"The fact that the varsity four won Eastern Sprints and reached the Grand Final is remarkable," Porter said.

The second varsity of Jennie Hansen, Cara Dermody, Maren McCrea, Suzanne Salgado, Christina Person, Milica Vujovic, Hayley Johnson, Lee Glandorf and coxswain Erin Haber placed third in the Petite Final with a time of 7:01.10. USC finished first in 6:58.34.

"Our second varsity is very young," Porter said. "They're learning valuable lessons. They were exposed to the challenge that the NCAAs pose, and they showed a lot of grit."

Final Team Scores

1. Brown 58
2. Virginia 54
3. Ohio State 52
4. Yale 51
5. USC 48
6. Minnesota 47
7. California 38
8. Princeton 34
9. Tennessee 29
10. Washington 25
11. Harvard 19
12. Notre Dame 13

Varsity Eight Grand Final

1. Yale 6:37.08
2. Ohio State 6:38.77
3. USC 6:39.45
4. Brown 6:39.55
5. Virginia 6:41.50
6. Princeton 6:45.38

Second Varsity Eight Petite Final

1. USC 6:58.34
2. Tennessee 6:59.30
3. Yale 7:01.10
4. Harvard 7:06.34
5. Princeton 7:11.15
6. Notre Dame 7:16.16

Varsity Four Grand Final

1. Virginia 7:35.03
2. Brown 7:45.54
3. California 7:47.87
4. Princeton 7:50.90
5. Washington 7:53.75
6. Yale 7:54.41

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity

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