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Lightweight rowing emerges victorious at WIRA Championships

The No. 2 Stanford women’s lightweight varsity eight boat won the grand final of the WV8 D1/Open event at the WIRA (Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association) Championships on Lake Natoma in Rancho Cordova, California, on Sunday. The win is the second two-day race event in which the Cardinal have taken home the gold. It was the varsity eight boat’s sixth first-place finish this spring out of eight races. The varsity eight has won all four of its races in two-day regattas.

Members of the 1V8 title-winning boat include freshmen Jackie Huddle and Christine Cavallo, sophomores Brittany Presten and Katherine Christel, juniors Mackenzie Crist, Alicia Kapjian-Pitt, Jordan Duval-Smith and Bailey Yuro and senior Molly Hayes.

The Cardinal had their second consecutive weekend of competition after travelling to Boston last weekend to race against four of the other top-seven teams in the nation. The 1V8 fell to then-No. 2 Harvard-Radcliffe but finished ahead of No. 4 Boston University, No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 7 MIT.

On Lake Natoma, the 1V8 and 2V8 boats had strong finishes on Saturday to advance to the finals on Sunday. The 1V8 finished in first place on the first day of competition, five seconds ahead of the next closest finisher, beating Portland State, Seattle and San Diego State. The 2V8 placed third. The 1V8’s time of 6:51.50 was the fastest of the eight teams in the two heats of the event that weekend.

According to head coach Al Acosta, for both two-day regattas that the team has raced in this season (the second being the San Diego Crew Classic), the team has emphasized coming out hard and leaving nothing to regret on Saturday to put them in a good place heading into the second day of racing. In the WIRA and San Diego events, the plan panned out and the Card’s 1V8 came home with gold medals from both.

“After Saturday’s race we identified a few things to work on, so those were our main focus during the race [on Sunday],” Hayes said.

Headwinds on Sunday slowed times slightly and the team also suffered a technical failure, but that didn’t affect the consistency across the Card’s races, which has been a season-long goal. Despite being the only lightweight team to go up against other schools’ openweight boats, Stanford won by open water with a time of 6:53.0, finishing just over four seconds ahead of Sacramento State and 6.5 seconds in front of Saint Mary’s.

“We had some unexpected adversity in the second half of [Sunday’s] race when the ‘cox box’ — the microphone system — went out, but we handled it well and didn’t let it affect us,” Hayes said.

The 2V8 finished in fifth on Sunday while the varsity four boat earned silver after finishing 5.5 seconds behind UC-Irvine, despite trailing by a greater margin for the majority of the race.

“As a team, I’m really proud of how far we’ve come during the season,” Hayes said. “Our lightweight four boat did great by earning a second place [finish] during their final today.”

The Cardinal will regroup this week before their annual Big Row against California this Saturday at Redwood Shores. The upcoming regatta will provide another opportunity to prepare for the IRA Championships at the end of May.

Contact Ashley Westhem at awesthem ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Ashley Westhem

Ashley Westhem is the voice of Stanford women’s basketball for KZSU as well as The Daily’s beat writer for the team and aids in KZSU’s coverage of football. She has been a desk editor for three volumes and now serves as Managing Editor of Sports. She is an American Studies major from Lake Tahoe, Calif., and aspires to work in sports administration, to positively affect the lives of student-athletes and the relationship between the athletic and academic spheres of universities.