Radcliffe Varsity Eight, Four Advance to NCAA Semifinals

The Radcliffe varsity (above) got its NCAA regatta off to a good start on a foggy, misty morning and the second varsity challenged for a semifinal bid in its heat (photos courtesy Tim Bennett).
The Radcliffe varsity (above) got its NCAA regatta off to a good start on a foggy, misty morning and the second varsity challenged for a semifinal bid in its heat (photos courtesy Tim Bennett).

WEST WINDSOR, N.J.—The Radcliffe heavyweight varsity eight and varsity four placed third in their respective heats Friday morning at the NCAA Rowing Championships on Mercer Lake, advancing directly to Saturday's semifinals.

The Black and White second varsity placed fifth in its heat and sixth in the afternoon repechage and will race in Sunday's third-level final. The varsity eight semifinals are at 9 and 9:15 a.m. Saturday, followed by the second varsity eight and varsity four races. The Radcliffe varsity has assured itself of its best finish since at least 2008, when it placed seventh.

"Both of 1V and the four did what they needed to do this morning," head coach Liz O'Leary said. "I thought both boats rowed good, solid races and got themselves off to a good start in what will be an increasingly tight and competitive regatta. We'll take it one race at a time, go back and recover and be ready for more big races in the morning."

In the first Division I heat of the morning, Virginia, Washington and Radcliffe separated themselves for the three semifinal berths early on, with the Black and White battling the Huskies down the course for second place. Washington was up two seats on Radcliffe through 500 meters, but the Black and White pushed ahead soon after.

The Huskies drew even by the midway point, and Radcliffe grabbed another slim lead on UW with 500 meters left. Washington was the final boat to surge ahead and held off Radcliffe by barely three-fifths of a second for the runner-up spot, 6.5 seconds back of the Cavaliers. Radcliffe clocked a time of 6:44.18, topping fourth-place Brown by 6.6 seconds and fifth-place Yale by 8.4.

It was the second defeat of rivals Brown and Yale in as many races for the Black and White. Radcliffe fell to both teams in the dual season but avenged those losses on the way to its win in the Ivy League Championship grand final.

The Black and White's varsity four heat was not yet 500 meters old when first-place California, Radcliffe and Princeton gained an open-water advantage on Cornell and Michigan State. The Golden Bears led throughout, as Radcliffe and Princeton dueled for second place. The Black and White led the Tigers by two seats through 1,000 meters, but Princeton used a move right after that to surge ahead and went on to finish 2.5 seconds faster than Radcliffe's mark of 7:25.78.

It was another battle between Radcliffe and Washington, this time for third place, for much of the second varsity heat. The Black and White led the Huskies by three seats through 1,000 meters, as both crews trailed Ohio State and Princeton. UW edged ahead of Radcliffe midway through the third 500 meters and went on to grab the third semifinal spot from the heat. Radcliffe placed fifth in 6:59.07, ahead of Michigan State.

In the repechage, the Southern California second varsity claimed the early advantage at the front of a tightly packed field. Through 750 meters, one length separated the top six crews, with Radcliffe in the middle of that pack. The Black and White stood fourth through 1,000 meters but could not catch the leaders for a semifinal bid. USC edged Wisconsin for the win, while Stanford rallied to take the final semifinal spot from Notre Dame by one-fiftieth of a second. Radcliffe finished in 7:05.55, less than 4.5 seconds behind the final qualifying spot and nearly 10 ahead of seventh-place Michigan State.

Varsity Eight
Heat 1
Virginia 6:37.03
Washington 6:43.51
Radcliffe 6:44.18
Brown 6:50.78
Yale 6:52.60

Second Varsity Eight
Heat 3
Ohio State 6:43.97
Princeton 6:45.95
Washington 6:47.56
Cornell 6:53.47
Radcliffe 6:59.07
Michigan State 7:03.34

Southern California 7:00.09
Wisconsin 7:00.87
Stanford 7:01.06
Notre Dame 7:01.08
Cornell 7:04.42
Harvard 7:05.55
Michigan State 7:16.24

Varsity Four
Heat 1
California 7:19.73
Princeton 7:23.28
Harvard 7:25.78
Cornell 7:27.36
Michigan State 7:36.70