WEST WINDSOR, N.J. — The University of Iowa women’s rowing team concluded the 2017 season on the final day of the NCAA Championship on Sunday at Lake Mercer.
The II Varsity 8 crew’s start had them among the leaders in the early stages of their final, running second to Indiana for the first 1000 meters with Northeastern, Notre Dame, Central Florida, and Washington State behind them. Indiana gave no signs of giving up their early lead and it took the fastest 500m of any crew in any section of the race for Washington State to get through the Hawkeyes in the third quarter to take over the second spot. As the field crossed into the final 500m, the Hawkeyes found themselves in third and facing challenges from Northeastern and Notre Dame as they prepared for their finishing sprint. The Hawkeyes laid down the fastest final 500m in the field but they were not able to track down the two leaders and at the line, they crossed in third position and 15th overall in the Championship.
“Our second varsity didn’t get off the line as clean as they wanted to so it put them in a little more of a hot contest early in the race,” said head coach Andrew Carter. “Yesterday they got off pretty cleanly and were able to lead the field. Today they had to battle it out in the critical third 500m and that seemed to affect how their race unfolded. Overall, though, I think it was the best race of the weekend for them.”
“We were really excited to go out there,” said sophomore Megan Sprengeler. “It took a while to find our bearings this week. We just wanted to come out and crush it. We knew what was on the line and we came in seeded 13th, so we wanted push and own up to what we were expected to do. We went out there and raced our best. It was a solid race on our part. We just couldn’t come up with the 13th-place finish, but 15th feels great.”
The I Varsity 8 crew got off the start in better form but also found themselves running a tight second to Syracuse, a narrow 0.3 seconds separating the two leaders as they crossed into the second quarter. It was the Hawks who surged ahead during the next few hundreds to take over the lead and crossing the midway point, Iowa led the field by the narrowest of margins with Washington State also slipping past the Orange to take over second position. Notre Dame pulled even with Syracuse with Northeastern in close chase. Early in the third 500m, with five crews running virtually even, it was the Hawkeyes and Cougars who asserted themselves to pull ahead of the field with the Hawkeyes crossing 1500m with only a 0.05 second margin. In the final push for the finish, it was WSU who was able to get the advantage and the Cougars crossed the finish 1.1 seconds over the Hawkeyes who crossed second and 14th overall at the Championship.
“With a 14th overall finish, the I Varsity 8 finished above their seed, and that was one of the goals so that’s a bit of a victory,” said Carter. “They led almost wire-to-wire with Washington State getting through on a terrific move in the closing stages. A credit to them and a credit to our crew for a terrific effort.”
“That was our best race yet,” said junior Kaelynn Heiberg. “We listened to Georgia, our coxswain, and responded to all of our calls. We wanted to go out and get an early lead, which is what we did. Washington State crept up on us, but I’m proud of our crew. We put it all out there. It was a great race.”
The I Varsity 4 crew got off to a furious eading an impressive lineup of crews for the first 500m. It was a pace that proved to be too much for the Hawkeyes and, by the halfway mark, Wisconsin, Yale, and Stanford had caught them, putting the Hawkeyes into fourth place in the early stages of the third quarter. Virginia found its rhythm and speed in the third 500m and also got past the Hawkeyes by the 1500m mark. In a close finish with Syracuse, Iowa finished their final in sixth position and a team-high 12th overall finish at the NCAA Championship.
“The Four did what they’ve done all year,” said assistant coach Jeff Garbutt. “They attacked the first part of the race. They really went for it. Coming through the 1000m they were right up there with some stiff competition. I can’t say enough how proud I am of this group of women. They’ve overcome a lot of different things this year and they’ve always risen to the occasion. Today they had a little bit of a head breeze which, being one of the smaller crews in the regatta, is a little bit more challenging for them, but they stepped up to the challenge and laid down a strong first 1000. They paid for it a little bit in the last 1000 but they never quit and the thing I’m most proud of is they stayed very sound and did what they were taught to do. “
“We’ve been getting off the start line pretty quick this week and we did that again today,” said sophomore coxswain Logan Jones. “We got ahead in the first half and made everyone chase us. We gave it our all. I told them through the 1000 to leave it all on the course and I couldn’t have asked for anything more from them. Coming in seeded 16th and finishing ahead of our seed, what more could you ask for. I’m proud of them. I couldn’t have asked for a better crew.”
I Varisty Eight
Eve Stewart, Kaelynn Heiberg, Izzy Dolba, Victoria Bricker, Morgan Grastorf, Kat Tillman, Ashley Duda, Cristy Hartman, Georgia Sanderson (coxswain)
II Varsity Eight
Baillie McCunn, Dani Bender, Hannah Greenlee, Gemma Kerr, Contessa Harold, Megan Sprengeler, Sarah Powell, Rachel Canon, Faith Wieland (coxswain)
Ashlynn Bauer, Bianca DiBellonia, Claire Rutherford, Katie Pearson, Logan Jones (coxswain)