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W. Rowing: Just off the stand

The Stanford women’s rowing team finished just outside the medals, placing fourth at the NCAA Rowing Championships on Lake Natoma in Gold River, Calif. The varsity eights placed fourth, while the second varsity eights placed second. Virginia won the title, followed by Cal in second and Princeton in third. (Courtesy of Roger Waterman)

The Stanford women’s rowing team narrowly missed out on repeating its success from last year, placing fourth behind Virginia, California and Princeton in the team standings at the NCAA Rowing Championships on Lake Natoma in Gold River, Calif. on Sunday.

The morning started overcast, but by the time of the Division I finals, the clouds had burnt off to leave bright sunshine. However, a light crosswind developed into a headwind later on and slowed the whole field in the final races.

Defending its gold medal from last year in the Grand Final, the varsity eights could only post a time of 6:31:30 to come in fourth, one place behind cross-bay rivals California and six and a half seconds slower than winners Yale. Stanford’s team, which included seven members of last year’s winning team, was no match for the Bulldogs, who wrapped up their third win in four years, the only loss being to the Cardinal last year.

In its own Grand Final earlier in the day, Stanford’s second varsity eights had bettered the first team’s mark with a 6:30:45, but could not outpace the team from Brown, which steadily built its lead from start to finish, and the Cardinal came in second, this time one place ahead of the Bears.

Though the second team was just faster than the first, the two times posted by the Stanford eights were so close that, even had they switched places, the race results would have been identical.

The Cardinal fours, having narrowly been beaten to a Grand Final place by Brown on Saturday, only contested the Petite Final and, though leading with 1500 meters to go, came in second with a time of 7:22.99 behind Princeton to take seventh place in the standings.

A haul of 75 points from these races was not enough to regain the title, and the only two universities to have teams in all three Division I Grand Finals took the top two spots, with Virginia winning the title over California. It was the Cavaliers’ first ever NCAA title in women’s rowing.

While the Cardinal’s second varsity eights went one better than last year to win NCAA silver, the first varsity eights, and the team in general, may be disappointed to have slipped out of the medal positions this year and be hoping for the chance to make amends that only a new season will bring.

Out of the 23 Cardinal women competing on Sunday, there were just three seniors, and, from the full team of 38, just four will be graduating this year: Adrienne Fritsch, Cassie Kull, Alex Hasbach and Joanna Tu. In comparison, there are currently 15 freshmen on the squad, and seven took part yesterday. Except for sophomore Carly Villareal everyone in the fours was in her first season at the Farm.

Though head coach Yasmin Farooq may be sad to lose her seniors, with so many young members of her squad already gaining experience of top-level competition and with an almost identical lineup due back in the fall, the future should be bright for Stanford women’s rowing.