Virginia wins two competitions, advances three boats to semifinals
INDIANAPOLIS —Virginia advanced all three boats to the semifinals on the first day of the NCAA championships Friday on Eagle Creek Park Lake.
On a rainy and windy morning, the Cavaliers’ Varsity 8 and Varsity 4 picked up victories in their respective heats, while the Second Varsity 8 placed second in its heat to qualify for Saturday’s semifinals.
The top three teams from each semifinal will advance to Sunday’s grand finals (places 1-6), while the last three will move onto the petite finals (places 7-12) on Sunday.
“To have all three boats advance to the semis and not have to come back for the repechages is awesome and a good first step for us,” UVa head coach Kevin Sauer said.
“The morning went as well as we hoped it could go,” assistant coach Brett Sickler said. “We’ve had three weeks since the ACC championships and we changed it up and looked at a lot of [lineup] combinations, but the biggest thing we talked about with the team was leaving egos at the door and putting the team first. Everybody did that [Friday] morning and that’s why we were able to be successful in all three boats.”
The Varsity 8 started slow, but had gained a solid lead by the halfway point of the race and earned the victory in a time of 6:49.64, ahead of Washington (6:56.88), Michigan (7:02.31), Wisconsin, Gonzaga and Rhode Island. The fourth-seeded UVa boat posted the second-fastest time out of the four heats (USC – 6:48.94).
In the Second Varsity 8, the Cavaliers jumped out to a lead ahead of top-seeded Ohio State, but Buckeyes had a strong second half to edge UVa, 6:50.74 to 6:55.79. Yale was third in 6:59.43, followed by UCLA and Washington State. OSU and UVa, seeded eighth, notched the top two times during the four heats.
The Cavalier Varsity 4 started strong and never looked back, winning in a time of 8:02.09, ahead of Yale (8:06.89), Brown (8:15.68), Harvard, Boston University and Marist. The 11th-seeded Virginia boat posted the fourth-fastest time, behind only USC (7:52.32), OSU (7:55.26) and Washington (8:02.09).
“The Varsity 8 was close at the start, but stretched out the lead to the finish, so that was a good race for them,” Sauer said. “Our 2V8 really took it to the top-seed Ohio State and was able to finish second and qualify straight to the semifinals, which was big, and our Varsity 4 exhibited an awesome race to win their heat.”