Radcliffe Narrowly Misses NCAA Grand Finals

The varsity four (above) and varsity eight will seek top-10 national finishes in Sunday's petite finals (photos courtesy Tim Bennett).
The varsity four (above) and varsity eight will seek top-10 national finishes in Sunday's petite finals (photos courtesy Tim Bennett).

Day 1 Recap

—The Radcliffe heavyweight varsity eight missed a berth in the NCAA grand final by 1.9 seconds and the varsity four came up nine-tenths of a second short as both boats placed fourth in their semifinals Saturday in the NCAA Rowing Championships on Mercer Lake.

The varsity eight's effort to catch third-place California came up just short, and the four was edged at the line by Washington. The Radcliffe varsity will race in the petite final at 11:45 a.m. Sunday, following the four's 10:05 petite final and the second varsity eight's third-level final at 10:40.

"Both boats raced well, raced hard and raced aggressively," said head coach Liz O'Leary. "I'm proud of them and the way they competed. For today, they were just a little short of where they wanted to be against an outstanding field."

Eventual winner Virginia, Southern California and Cal got off to quick starts to build a lead on fourth-place Radcliffe in the first varsity eight semifinal. Radcliffe trailed third-place USC by two seats through 750 meters, and when the Trojans passed Cal around the middle of the race, the Black and White came along and got within one seat of the Golden Bears.

Cal stretched the margin to three-quarters of a length over the next 250 meters. Radcliffe charged back in the final 500 but could not quite catch the Bears, finishing in 6:20.94 to Cal's 6:19.04. Michigan, Princeton and Washington advanced from the second semifinal to join UVa, USC and Cal in the grand final.

"They had a terrific sprint to get back on Cal," O'Leary said of her varsity. " They ran out of time, ran out of room."

In the opening half of the first of two varsity four semifinals, Cal, Radcliffe and Yale built a boat-length lead on Washington, Notre Dame and Michigan. They kept that margin heading into the final 500 meters, with the Bears in first, followed by the Bulldogs and Black and White.

Washington closed hard in the final quarter, nosing ahead of Radcliffe and nearly catching Yale, as the top four crews were separated by just 2.5 seconds. Cal won in 7:09.66, with Yale barely a second behind and the Huskies less than a half-second back of the Bulldogs. Washington finished in 7:11.25 to Radcliffe's 7:12.16.

"It was unbelievably close," O'Leary said. "The four had a really great race, a really brave attack. It was a tremendous effort."

Ohio State, Virginia and Princeton moved on from the other varsity four semifinal. The second varsity eights from California, Michigan, Princeton, Ohio State, Virginia and UCLA advanced to the grand final.

Varsity Eight
Semifinal 1
Virginia 6:13.35
Southern California 6:17.48
California 6:19.04
Radcliffe 6:20.94
Stanford 6:22.67
Cornell 6:29.58

Varsity Four
Semifinal 1
California 7:09.66
Yale 7:10.81
Washington 7:11.25
Radcliffe 7:12.16
Notre Dame 7:21.20
Michigan 7:31.25