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Rowing teams conclude season at NCAAs, IRAs

Women’s rowing capped of an impressive season with an dominant showing at NCAAs, reaching the podium with a fourth place overall finish and having all three boats compete in the Grand Finals on Sunday. The lightweight team and men’s rowing also finished off their respective seasons at the IRA Championship Regatta. After winning the national title for the past four years straight, the lightweights came in a close second this year. The men’s varsity eight boat finished 13th overall, with their varsity eight boat winning the C Final.

(RICHARD C. ERSTED/isiphotos)

Stanford women’s rowing finished fourth overall at the NCAA rowing championships. The varsity four boat (above) had the highest finish of the three Stanford boats competing in the Grand Finals, earning a silver medal. (RICHARD C. ERSTED/isiphotos)

The Cardinal women headed into Friday’s heats after receiving top honors throughout the boat. Head coach Yazmin Farooq was inducted into the National Rowing Foundation Hall of Fame in addition to winning CRCA (Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association) West Regional Coach of the Year and Pac-12 Coach of the Year. Four rowers also received All-Region honors in the West and seven were named CRCA Scholar Athletes. Senior Anna Dawson was also named Pac-12 Athlete of the Year.

After only making it into the C Finals last year in each boat after the first two days and having to watch the Grand Finals from the shore, the Card went into the final day of racing just one point shy of the leader, Ohio State, with the chance to claim the NCAA title. In the 1V8 race, the Card suffered from a poor start and weren’t able to muster enough to get a top finish and came in sixth. The 2V8, similarly, was not able to gain enough momentum to carry it through the rest of the compettion and ended with a fourth place finish.

The varsity four boat, however, turned out to be the secret weapon of the Cardinal and placed second in the Grand Finals with a quick start guaranteeing a top finish. The silver finish secured Stanford the final spot on the podium behind repeat national champions Ohio State, Cal and Brown. It was the highest NCAA finish for the varsity four in school history.

“To get all three boats back in action for trophies and in contention for a national title in one short year is a testament to the commitment these women made to being a better team,” said Farooq to GoStanford.com. “It’s been a privilege to coach them and I’m confident they left it all out there today.”

After starting the season ranked just 13th in the preseason coaches’ poll, the Card exceeded all expectations by contending for the national title at the end of the year, sweeping Cal in the Big Row for the first time since 2009 and winning the program’s first ever Pac-12 title.

Although the lightweights failed to bring home a fifth consecutive IRA national title, the team’s accomplishments throughout the year cannot be overlooked. The team had five first-place finishes heading into IRAs, including a conference win at the PCRC championships, the WIRA Championship Regatta and wins over the Cal openweights at Big Row.

The varsity eight fell to Harvard-Radcliffe in the Grand Finals by less than a second. Stanford led for most of the race but it was the Crimson that pulled out the victory over the Cardinal by a margin of 0.68 seconds. Stanford’s varsity four also placed second in the Grand Finals.

Men’s rowing competed right after the lightweights at Lake Mercer. The 13th overall finish for the varsity eight held true to its No. 13 seed heading into the weekend. The 2V8 also had a top finish in the C Final, coming in third behind Dartmouth and Syracuse to finish 17th overall.

The program will see the departure of senior captain Austin Hack and senior Will Robins, but will otherwise see the return of the bulk of the team, including a group of promising freshmen. Hack will continue rowing for the U.S. national team.

“Our men know what they have to do to improve for next year,” head coach Craig Amerkhanian told GoStanford.com. “Through racing this weekend they developed learning techniques. They are leaving with a backpack full of knowledge.”

Contact Ashley Westhem at awesthem@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.