May 19, 2009
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - There wasn't much drama when the Yale women's crew gathered at Gilder Boathouse to watch the NCAA Selection Show following practice on Tuesday. After winning the Charles Willing Team Trophy at the Eastern Sprints on Sunday, the Bulldogs were a lock to receive a bid. Nevertheless, Yale head coach Will Porter is never completely comfortable when the teams are announced.
"They usually do it in alphabetical order, and I am always anxious until I hear our name," he said.
It should be old hat for Porter to see Yale on the screen. The Bulldogs earned their eighth straight bid when the field was announced on Tuesday. The championships are May 29-31 on the Cooper River in Cherry Hill, N.J., the same course where Yale won the Eastern Sprints. Yale will field two boats of eight rowers each and one boat of four rowers.
"We are all extremely excited to be getting another chance to race fast crews and find more speed," said junior Maren McCrea, who sits in the No. 5 seat of the varsity eight. "I feel so fortunate to be on a team that is able to produce results that earn us invitations to such prestigious races. Being able to compete at the top level of collegiate rowing and be pushed by the fastest boats in the country is always thrilling and humbling."
Yale's varsity eight is the two-time defending NCAA champion. Last spring, the Bulldogs edged Stanford and Brown by less than 1.5 seconds to win a thrilling Grand Final. Yale finished fourth in the team standings with 51 points. Brown has won the team title in each of the last two years.
Yale is making its ninth overall appearance in the team championships. The Bulldogs' best finish came in 2004 when they were second.
Four other Ivy League teams also qualified - Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard and Princeton. The rest of the field is California, Clemson, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oregon State, Southern California, Stanford, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
"This year the championship expanded to 16 teams which means the field is deeper than ever and the challenge to win is even more difficult," Porter said.
Racing at the NCAA Championships begins on Friday, May 29, at 8:45 a.m.
"I have a great deal of faith in our abilities if we perform to the level we are capable of," McCrea said. "We are a much more close knit team than ever before, and I definitely am not ready to say goodbye yet, so I am glad that we have a few more weeks together."