Varsity Four and Eight Advance to NCAA Grand Final
May 31, 2008
Rancho Cordova, Calif. - The Michigan State rowing team sent two of its three entries to Grand Finals at the NCAA Regatta on Saturday, both with quality racing on Lake Natoma in Rancho Cordova, Calif. The two boats had different paths to the final, but the end results find the Spartans in the hunt for National Championships.
MSU's varsity four, after perhaps a disappointing second-place finish in Friday's opening heat, won their Saturday race by open water over Yale, while the varsity eight engaged in a 2,000-meter dogfight that saw three crews finish within six-tenths of a second. MSu's second varsity will be in the petite final on Sunday after a fourth-place finish on Saturday in its repechage.
"Im happy with today's results and effort," admitted head coach Matt Weise at the conclusion of the raceday. "The varsity was in a great, close race that should give them confidence for Sunday. It was probably our best race performance of the season, and I think that there is more to be had for them. The four didn't have a great race on Friday - today we got effective effort, not just effort, and I think they will learn from that.
"The 2V maybe needed to be more aggressive, but their points tomorrow are as important as the ones as we can get from either of the two boats," Weise continued. "Strong efforts tomorrow can put us where we want to be. We have a chance to top our best-ever finish, and I know that all of them are focused on that goal."
The day's most exciting race was the first of the schedule for the Spartans, as they lined up with Brown, Virginia, Washington, Southern Cal, and Michigan. The Spartans had a great start, and upstart Washington held an early two-seat lead over MSU, which sat in second. All boats still had contact at the 750 meter mark, which is when Brown made its move in lane one. The Bears took over the lead in the next 500 meters, leaving the Spartans, Washington, and Virginia to slug it out. The final 1000 meters of the race saw the 2-3-4 boats change consistently, with none of the three getting more than a deck lead on the others. While Brown pulled to a lead of a half-length at 1750, those three trailing boats - vying for the final two spots in the grand final - fought it out to the finish. Brown's time of 6:34.93 claimed victory in the heat - and the crowd had to wait until the final results were announced minutes later to get the final placement for the teams battling it out for the 2-3-4 spots. Washington was second in a time of 6:36.37, followed by the Spartans with a time of 6:36.64 for the final two spots in Sunday's grand final. It was Virginia which fell out of the championship field, as their time of 6:36.92 to send the Cavaliers to the petite final, despite being just .28 seconds off a qualifying time. Michigan State will be joined in the grand final by Yale, Cal, Stanford, Brown, and Washington.
The four had a much easier go - while Yale claimed the lead out of the settle, but had just two seats on Michigan State in second, and Washington State pushing from lane four. MSU had nearly erased Yale's lead at the 500 meter mark, and moved through the Eli crew to have a half length lead by 750 meters. The Spartans had a full length lead by 1250 meters, and coasted from there as they had open water for the sprint. With such a lead, the Spartans did not have to burn much energy in the final stretch, and came over the line in a time of 7:33.77, while Yale was clocked at 7:38.04. Those two crews advance to the grand final with Washington and Virginia (Friday's heat winners who advanced directly to the grand final) as well as Cal and Brown, the top two finishers in Saturday's other repechage heat.
The second varsity eight will be in the petite final on Sunday, along with Washington State, Harvard, Yale, Wisconsin, and Princeton. The boat had a bit of a slow start and never really had much chance to make up ground. Washington and Tennessee advanced to the grand final from the second heat, as the Huskies posted a winning time of 6:49.28; the Lady Vols were nearly four seconds back. The remainder of the field was open water back from the advancing teams: Wisconsin (6:55.9), MSU (7:02.08), and Princeton (7:09.32).
The Spartans will be looking for their highest-ever team finish on Sunday. MSU finished sixth as a team (as well as the varsity boat taking sixth overall) at the 2006 NCAA Regatta in New Jersey. MSU's raceday begins on Sunday at 10:15 a.m.; the fours line up right before the second varsity petite final at 10:30. The biggest race of the day takes place at 11:30, when the varsity eight lines up for the national championship race.
at the official