|Washington among leaders, East and West (Photo: B. Kitch)|
The heats from this morning's Division I varsity eight event were outstanding—and, once again, it was the new-look Texas Longhorns squad that turned in one of the most impressive finishes. In a three-boat race to the finish with the Washington Huskies and Ivy League champs Brown, the Longhorns fought all the way to the line, taking a close second behind the Dawgs and forcing the RR no. 1-ranked Bears into the repechage this afternoon.
What a race! V8 takes close second, gets the afternoon off, advances to Saturday's A-B semifinals! pic.twitter.com/dkaHzmt57A— TexasRowing (@TexasRowing) May 29, 2015
But the Longhorns weren't done yet! Their second varsity eight also brought it home in the heat, taking a close second behind Washington State to progress directly to the A/B semifinal.
The II Eight did its job and made a move! Texas in lane 3, Wash State in 2, UVA in 1 pic.twitter.com/8W1N5g85ZI— TexasRowing (@TexasRowing) May 29, 2015
Also impressive at Lake Natoma this morning were Ohio State (varsity eight won the heat, second varsity took second place, varsity four edged WSU to take first place), as the Buckeyes saw all three boats head straight to the A/B semis, Washington, and Pac-12 champion California.
No. 3 #Buckeyes advance all three boats to A/B semis. #NCAARow Day 1 RECAP: http://t.co/AzoXHCQitL #GoBucks #RowBucks pic.twitter.com/a9iWvWPFu5— OSU Women's Rowing (@OhioState_WROW) May 29, 2015
Huskies Advance All Three Boats To #ncaarow Semifinals: http://t.co/ouNGZMw78H pic.twitter.com/g0rMxYFnhc— UW Husky Crew (@UWHuskyCrew) May 29, 2015
All Three Boats Advance to NCAA Championship Semifinals http://t.co/Q1dJwNvPOq— Cal Women's Crew (@CalWCrew) May 29, 2015
Not far off the pace were Princeton and Brown—our pick to win it all at the beginning of the season was Brown, but the Bears will have to battle their way through the reps in the varsity eight to give themselves a shot at the title this season. Not an impossible feat, but likely more difficult a path than they would have preferred coming in. Virginia also posted strong results in the varsity eight and varsity four, but just missed qualifying directly for the A/B semi in the second varsity eight—the Hoos will also be a crew to watch throughout the weekend, along with 2014 Pac-12 champion Stanford.
Looking at the Divisions II and III results, the fields have continued to grow more competitive as we see parity increasing every year in NCAA Rowing. The Division II field saw 2013 runner-up Barry win both their heats in the varsity eight and varsity four, while Mercyhurst matched that feat in the other two heats. Similarly, Bates and Trinity won their respective heats in both the first and second varsity eights—so far, it looks like Bates may be the team to beat in Sacramento this year, though the fastest time of the day went to Trinity's varsity eight. Will there be still more new champions crowned in Divisions II and III in 2015?
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Like their counterparts on the women's side, the Washington Huskies and California Golden Bears were both getting the job done on the East Coast, with the Huskies winning all five of their races Friday to advance straight to the semis, while the Bears won four of five races (finishing second in the frosh eight behind Wisconsin) and will also advance.
UW Wins All Five Heats On First Day Of IRA Regatta: http://t.co/5xUGwkiGRk … pic.twitter.com/GSDcvXdwrE— UW Husky Crew (@UWHuskyCrew) May 29, 2015
The Yale Bulldogs also continued their run of success, as the finished with a strong first place in their varsity eight heat, posting the second-fastest time of the day just back of California. The Bulldogs also took second in their heat of the 2V8, just under a length back of Cal, and another second place in the varsity four. Princeton will also be another crew to watch this weekend, and could be the best bet to upset the Bulldogs this year at IRAs—the Tigers' deep squad showed up well on Day One on Mercer Lake, and their top-end speed looks on point as well, as they won Heat 4 of the men's varsity eight. And, Northeastern and Brown have also looked strong so far—with the Brown men's varsity four winning its rep at time of writing, the Bears will once again be sending all their boats to the A/B semis this year.
As we said in our 2015 RR Preseason Rankings, we're taking Washington to win the men's varsity eight again this year, with California in second, and Yale in third, with other finals probables Princeton, Northeastern, and Brown (and BU knocking on the door).
Lightweight rowing is still to come in West Windsor, so here are some picks for the varsity eights: On the men's side, we're looking for Cornell to continue their run of perfection and defend their 2014 IRA title, with Columbia in hot pursuit, along with Princeton; on the women's side, the Stanford Cardinal have been the team to beat all season, and we're expecting them to stay atop the field as well, with Radcliffe as their primary challenger, and with BU and Wisconsin battling it out for the bronze this year.
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Keep an eye out for the next issue of ROWING Magazine, which will feature all intercollegiate championship racing, from sea to shining sea.