There is a time for two-a-day sessions in rowing. Day 1 of the NCAA Championships is not one of them. Head coach Lori Dauphiny was thrilled to give her team the afternoon off after all three boats qualified for the Saturday semifinals during the opening session of the 2012 NCAA Championships, held at Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J.
“It was a good morning for us,” Dauphiny said. “I was nervous for every race, because you just never know at the national championships. Everybody was excited about their heat and to test their speed. It paid off this morning.”
The varsity eight was the first boat to take care of business, qualifying for the Saturday morning semifinal with a third-place finish in the third varsity eight heat. Princeton took off early with weekend favorite California and established a good position by the middle point of the heat.
Ohio State, which placed second to Michigan in the Big Ten Championships, made a huge move in the middle 1,000 to take a lead it wouldn’t relinquish, but both California and Princeton held sizable advantages over fourth-place Wisconsin and didn’t need to exert much in the final 500 to clinch a semifinal spot.
Ohio State took the heat in 6:49.85, while California placed second in 6:52.19. Princeton finished third in 6:53.48, and the Tigers will now race in either the 9 or 9:15 am semifinal on Saturday. As will be the case in both the second varsity and varsity four competitions as well, the top three finishers in each semifinal will advance to Sunday’s grand finals.
The Princeton second varsity followed with a strong performance in the third heat of its competition. Like its varsity eight heat, Ohio State was the boat that took control, but Princeton gave itself a comfortable edge over the rest of the field for most of the race and comfortably qualified for either the 9:30 or 9:45 semifinal.
Ohio State won the heat in 6:43.97, while Princeton finished second in 6:45.95. The third qualifier in the heat was Washington, which topped Cornell by nearly six full seconds for the final automatic berth in Saturday’s semifinals.
The varsity four, which went undefeated in the regular season and placed second at the Ivy Sprints to Radcliffe, completed the perfect morning with a second-place finish in the opening heat. California, the Pac-12 champion, won the heat in 7:19.73, but Princeton made a move past Radcliffe midway through the heat and wasn’t pushed in the final 500 for a second-place finish in 7:23.28. Cornell tried to make a push into the top three, but Radcliffe stayed strong and took the third qualifying spot.
“I think all three boats did a nice job,” Dauphiny said. “It was nice to see the varsity, especially, get into the position they were in. For them, since they had a bit of a rough Ivy championship, it was a positive start. We’re well aware that this is just the first step, though.”
Princeton will know its semifinal start times and lane assignments following the afternoon repechages. Check @PUTigers for a further update Friday night with those times and assignments.
Varsity Eight, Heat 3
1) Ohio State 6:49.85
2) California 6:52.19
3) Princeton 6:53.48
4) Wisconsin 7:00.46
5) Notre Dame 7:04.44
6) Stanford 7:11.59
Second Varsity Eight
1) Ohio State 6:43.97
2) Princeton 6:45.95
3) Washington 6:47.56
4) Cornell 6:53.47
5) Radcliffe 6:59.07
6) Michigan State 7:03.34
1) California 7:19.73
2) Princeton 7:23.28
3) Radcliffe 7:25.78
4) Cornell 7:27.36
5) Michigan State 7:36.70