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Rowing: UW women's lightweights on course for third straight national title

Rowing: UW women's lightweights on course for third straight national title

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CHERRY HILL, N.J. -- The top-ranked University of Wisconsin women's lightweight rowing team has positioned itself well in its quest to win its sixth national title in seven years thanks to a strong showing Friday at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association national championships.

The Badgers' varsity eight and varsity four boats each won their heats, earning a place in Saturday's grand finals on the Cooper River. The varsity four will race at 7:24 a.m., while the varsity eight will take the water at 10:15 a.m.

UW aims for its third straight crown, a feat it accomplished from 2004-06 as well.

"I'm happy with the way both crews started off the regatta today," UW coach Erik Miller said. "Both crews will definitely have some difficult races tomorrow if they want to be champions at the IRA. I think that it's well within our ability, but we'll have to execute a perfect race.

"There are some very tough competitors that we'll be rowing against. It will be a challenge for us, but a challenge that I think we are up to."

In Friday's first race, the Badgers' varsity eight clocked a time of 6:35.64 on the 2,000-meter course to win the first of two heats and defeat No. 5 Georgetown (6:39.89), No. 4 Radcliffe (6:44.56) and No. 8 Tulsa (7:10.53).

"I was happy with the way the lightweight eight started off the race," Miller said. "They were long and effective and ended up winning their heat fairly easily with the fastest time of the day for the lightweight eights. I think they did a good job."

No. 2 Stanford won the second heat in 6:35.87 -- just .23 seconds behind Wisconsin -- to set up an exciting grand final. No. 3 Princeton and Georgetown also advanced.

"Stanford looked good in the second heat," Miller said. "They were very fast off the start and ended up with a time nearly identical to the time the Badgers posted. There are definitely some things we'll work on to match and hopefully better the speed of the Stanford crew tomorrow."

The Badgers came from behind to win the varsity four race, shooting past Loyola (Md.) to earn the victory in 7:38.06. The Greyhounds took second in 7:40.71 and will join the UW in Saturday's grand final. Princeton and Massachusetts Institute of Technology rounded out the heat.

"In the lightweight four, I was pretty happy with the way we raced," Miller said. "Loyola got off to a very quick start and had a lead by the 500-meter marker. The Badgers got off the line in second and were in that position most of the way down before sprinting through the crew from Loyola in the final 500 meters."

In the other varsity four heat, Bucknell won in 7:47.77, followed by Radcliffe in 7:50.81. Both boats will race in the grand final, while Georgetown and Stanford will face Princeton and MIT for the final two places in the grand final.

The IRA national championship regatta follows a repechage system. For the women's lightweight competition, the top two boats in each heat advance to the grand final, while the remaining boats compete in Friday afternoon's repechage. The top two finishers in the repechage also will earn a place in the grand final, and the remaining boats will race in the petite final.

With its victory in Friday's opening heat, UW's varsity eight remains unbeaten against lightweight competition this season.

"I'm pretty confident in the ability of our crew," Miller said. "They've done a good job since the Eastern Sprints and have done a good job this week. Hopefully they are able to put together a good race tomorrow."

Wisconsin's sixth-ranked men's rowing program also continues racing at the same IRA championships on Friday and Saturday.

Friday's results

2,000 meters

Varsity Lightweight Eight

Heat 1 (Places 1-2 to Saturday's grand final, rest to afternoon repechage)

1. Wisconsin, 6:35.64; 2. Georgetown, 6:39.89; 3. Radcliffe, 6:44.58; 4. Tulsa, 7:10.53

UW lineup: Coxswain Shelly Miller, Dani Dewitt, Grace Lautman, Sarah Padway, Katherine Fink, Constance Chucholowski, Kaela Erickson, Mia Cava, Abby Knight

Heat 2 (Places 1-2 to Saturday's grand final, rest to afternoon repechage)

1. Stanford, 6:35.87; 2. Princeton, 6:42.28; 3. Bucknell, 6:58.80; 4. MIT 7:06.29

Varsity Lightweight Four

Heat 1 (Places 1-2 to Saturday's grand final, rest to afternoon repechage)

1. Bucknell, 7:47.77; 2. Radcliffe, 7:50.81; 3. Georgetown, 7:54.32; 4. Stanford, 7:57.19

Heat 2 (Places 1-2 to Saturday's grand final, rest to afternoon repechage)

1. Wisconsin, 7:38.064; 2. Loyola (MD), 7:40.714; 3. Princeton, 8:08.758; 4. MIT, 8:22.148

UW lineup: Coxswain Adrienne Winfield, Breanne Lynch, Gabrielle Waclawik, Johanna Brady, Kate Ludwig


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