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Trio of rowing programs gears up for national tournaments
The men's rowing team (above) likely won't win a title this year, but the women's lightweight team has a strong chance to make a big splash at IRA National Championships this coming weekend. (DAVID BERNAL/isiphotos.com)

Trio of rowing programs gears up for national tournaments

Members of the three Stanford rowing teams, like many Stanford students, left campus at the start of the Memorial Day weekend. However, they didn’t return in time for Tuesday classes, and instead remained at their respective training sites to prepare for and compete at nationals — they will come back to the Farm just in time for finals.

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The women’s rowing team arrived at its “secret location” and began practice for the NCAA Championships on Sunday. The No. 6 Cardinal received an at-large bid to compete, making this the seventh straight year Stanford has qualified for the championships and 10th time overall. The varsity eight boat, the Cardinal’s top boat, after earning the silver medal at the Pac-12 Championships a week and a half ago, received the No. 3 seed overall.

“We’re glad to be going back to Lake Natoma,” said head coach Yasmin Farooq. “We’ve seen a lot of these teams throughout the season, but we all start with a clean slate next Friday. We’re looking forward to showing what we can do over the three-day Championship weekend.”

Last season, the women finished fourth overall in Indianapolis, with all three boats advancing to the Grand Finals and the varsity four earning its best finish in school history with second place. The last, and only, team national championship came in 2009. However, more recently, the varsity eight won the title in 2009 and the 2V8 took the crown in 2011.

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Led by first-year head coach Derek Byrnes, the No. 1 Stanford lightweight rowing team, undefeated this spring season, will continue its journey in Princeton, New Jersey towards earning its fifth program national title at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) National Championships.

Last season was the first in four years that Stanford did not end the championship weekend standing atop the podium. Cross-country rivals Harvard-Radcliffe took the title with more than a second margin to cushion the win. The Cardinal had led for the entirety of the race before fatigue overcame one of the rowers and the Cardinal fell behind by a fraction of a seat in the final strokes of the Grand Finals.

This year, the lightweight team will look to redeem itself by starting a new national title win streak and bringing another trophy back to the Farm. The lineup of the variety eight boat this season has the luxury of seven returning rowers from their effort last year, spelling potential success for Stanford. Experience, poise and a fire for redemption fuel the team as it heads into IRAs this weekend.

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In addition to the No. 6 women’s rowing team competing at NCAAs and the No. 2 lightweight team at IRAs, the No. 13 men’s rowing team will compete in the IRA Championships this weekend in West Windsor, New Jersey. Last season, the Cardinal’s varsity eight boat finished first in the C Final on the last day of racing and earned a 16th-place overall finish.

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

This upcoming weekend will be the test to determine just how much the men learned.

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

About Ashley Westhem

Ashley Westhem was Editor in Chief of Vol. 248 after serving as Executive Editor and Managing Editor of Sports. She 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 graduated in 2016 and is currently a Communications masters student. Ashley is from Lake Tahoe, California.