WEST WINDSOR, N.J.-The First Varsity Eight won its grand final to clinch the Virginia rowing team its second NCAA Championship Sunday (May 27) on Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J. It is UVa’s second national championship in three years.
The Cavaliers finished with 87 points, while Michigan placed second with 82 points. California was third with 78, just ahead of Princeton, who had 77.
“It feels great,” head coach Kevin Sauer said. “I was just thinking, ‘Come on you guys, do what you are capable to do.’ I told them before the race to remember who they are and what they want and they just went out and did it. They were tight in the beginning and were a little behind, but they were patient and in the second thousand (meters), they were awesome.”
Trailing California by three points going into the 1V8 grand final, the Cavaliers held off Michigan and won by nearly a full boat length in 6:18.72. The Wolverines were second in 6:22.09, while USC was third in 6:25.06. It is first time UVa has won the First Varsity Eight title.
“It feels absolutely amazing,” sophomore Fiona Schlesinger said. “It sums up all the hours the coaches, the athletes, the trainers and everyone else has put in. We all left our hearts out there on the line. Its incredible and I’m so glad to do it with these girls and all of my best friends.”
Virginia, who was seeded first in the First Varsity Eight coming into the regatta, was second to Michigan after 250 meters, but had taken the lead by the 750-meter mark. Halfway through the race, the Cavaliers had a five-seat lead over Michigan and by the finish, were almost leading by open water.
“For the last month or two, we felt we had a shot, but it had to be a team performance,” associate head coach Steve Pritzker said. “We knew the Four had to be at the top, we knew the 2V8 had to make the grand final and they did that. I think its great that even though those two boats didn’t win, they can see what a great part they played in this team championship.”
In the Varsity Four, the Cavaliers jumped out to a five-seat lead over Ohio State by 500 meters, but Ohio State overcame UVa at the end and won the race in 7:13.09 to Virginia’s time of 7:15.18. California placed third in 7:21.15, while Yale (7:23.53), Princeton (7:26.23) and Washington (7:29.20) rounded out the final.
The V4 has finished second for the second consecutive year and the fifth time overall. Virginia has won four Varsity Four national titles (2004, 2005, 2007, 2010).
In the Second Varsity Eight, Michigan won in a time of 6:37.04, ahead of Ohio State (6:38.94) and Cal (6:40.85). Virginia placed fifth in 6:44.97, behind Princeton (6:42.61) but before UCLA (7:10.40).
“This is more than I could have ever asked for,” senior co-captain Sarah Borchelt said. “The best part is that we had almost the entire team here cheering us on. Every day, every race, the ups and downs and the blood, sweat and tears we shed was all worth it.”
First Varsity Eight: Coxswain Sidney Thorsten, Keziah Beall, Martha Kuzzy, Kristine O’Brien, Sarah Cowburn, Fiona Schlesinger, Susanne Grainger, Hemingway Benton, Carli Goldberg
Second Varsity Eight: Coxswain Sarah Jordan, Chandler Lally, Elle Murray, Kaitlin Fanikos, Brandy Herald, Liza Tullis, MacKenzie Leahy, Sarah Borchelt, Morgan Joseph
Varsity Four: Coxswain Cristine Candland, Ruth Retzinger, Hunter Terry, Chelsea Simpson, Carolyn Glandorf