GOLD RIVER, Calif. – For the first time in Virginia rowing history, the No. 1-ranked Cavaliers captured the 2010 NCAA Rowing Championship with 87 points on Sunday (May 30) at Lake Natoma at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center. UVa’s Varsity Four capped off an undefeated season by winning its race and being crowned national champions.
The team victory gave Virginia its 20th team National Championship in school history, and the second for the 2009-10 academic year (men’s soccer won the 2009 NCAA Championship). For Virginia’s Varsity Four, it became the seventh crew in school history to win a national championship and the first since 2007.
“This is special feeling,” Virginia head coach Kevin Sauer said. “It’s unbelievable. We have worked so hard at this. It’s a great, great feeling.”
Virginia’s 87 points in the team standings gave it a first-place finish ahead of California (82 points) and Princeton (76 points). Rounding out the top five was Stanford (75 points) and Brown (71 points).
The Cavalier Varsity Four (coxswain Sarah Pichardo, Ruth Retzinger, Hunter Terry, Chelsea Simpson and Inge Janssen) started off its race with a commanding lead of a seat of open water at the 500-meter mark. By the halfway mark of its race, the Varsity Four had increased its lead to a full boat-length of open water ahead of second-place California, and the Cavaliers never looked back. Cal was second in the race, followed by Wisconsin.
The 2010 Varsity Four did not lose a race during the spring season and won the ACC Championship race in addition to the NCAA Championship race. It became the first UVa crew to win a national championship since the 2007 Varsity Four.
“They were a dominant crew from day one here,” Sauer said. “Associate head coach Steve Pritzker did a great job with those guys. They rowed well and they rowed hard. They set the tone. Our team would see them launching and coming down the course and just get so psyched. They really set the tone. That’s what’s cool about this final day, the Four goes first, so they started it off really well with a great race. I’m really happy for Sarah Pichardo, a senior coxswain who went out with a bang.”
With 16 points in the bank and the Second Varsity Eight race underway, Virginia found itself in a close race for third place with California. Stanford and Brown were pulling away from the field by the halfway mark. Brown (6:25.72) won the race, followed by Stanford (6:30.45) and California (6:31.96) edged out the Cavaliers for third place. Virginia’s fourth-place time was 6:35.94 and gave the Cavaliers 26 points towards the team title.
With one race left, Virginia was joined by California, Stanford and Princeton with a boat in the grand final of the Varsity Eight and a chance at the overall team title. With one point separating Cal and UVa, and three points separating Stanford and UVa – the Cavaliers would need to finish ahead of both of those schools to win the team title.
From lane five, the Cavaliers had a clean start and settled into third place at the 500-meter mark. With frontrunner Yale setting the pace, Virginia’s Varsity Eight (coxswain Sidney Thorsten, Jennifer Cromwell, Katrin Reinert, Desiree Burns, Kristine O’Brien, Martha Kuzzy, Helen Tompkins, Nora Phillips, Summers Nelson) concentrated on catching second-place Princeton and holding off Cal and Stanford.
In the end, the Cavaliers did catch Princeton and finished a close second (6:25.75) to first-place Yale (6:24.76). With 45 points earned for the second-place finish, Virginia had captured the team title.
“I feel amazing right now,” Virginia senior Jennifer Cromwell said. “This is honestly a dream come true. When I committed to Virginia, I made a promise to myself that I was not leaving here without a national championship. So now it is a dream come true. My last race being a Cavalier, I can’t put into words how excited I am.”
UVa NCAA Line-Ups
Coxswain Sidney Thorsten, Jennifer Cromwell, Katrin Reinert, Desiree Burns, Kristine O’Brien, Martha Kuzzy, Helen Tompkins, Nora Phillips, Summers Nelson
Second Varsity Eight
Coxswain Cristine Candland, Victoria Burke, Marie Long, Lauren Hutchins, Sarah Borchelt, Caroline Sweeny, Christine Roper, Claudia Blandford, Lauren Shook
Coxswain Sarah Pichardo, Ruth Retzinger, Hunter Terry, Chelsea Simpson, Inge Janssen