On To The Grands: Blue Crew Varsity, Second Varsity Crews Advance To NCAA Finals

Molly Hoyer and the Blue Varsity Eight took second in their opening heat to advance to Saturday's Grand Final (Frank Poulin).
Molly Hoyer and the Blue Varsity Eight took second in their opening heat to advance to Saturday's Grand Final (Frank Poulin).

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Wellesley College crew Varsity Eight (V8+) took second, while the Second Varsity Eight (2V8+) added a first place finish as the Blue advanced both boats directly to the NCAA Division III Women's Rowing Championship Grand Finals following Friday's opening heats at Nathan Benderson Park.

Varsity Eight: Ithaca College jumped to an early lead to take a wire-to-wire victory in the second of two varsity eight heats to end the morning session. The Bombers finished in 06:50.215, as the Blue and Williams battled for the second spot and the automatic qualifier in Saturday's Grand Final. Wellesley made a move just past the 500m mark to take a slight lead (03:25.621) over the Ephs (03:26.369) at the midway point of the race. The Blue lead continued to grow at the 1500m, as Wellesley would finish just over two seconds (06:52.963) back of the Ithaca to advance directly to the Grand Final. Williams finished third in 06:55.473, followed by Pacific Lutheran in fourth in 07:01.218. 

Wellesley V8+ Lineup: C - Sydney Stento (Boise, Idaho); 8 - Emilia Ball (Albany, N.Y.); 7 - Liz Shumway (Eden Praire, Minn.); 6 - Frances Dingivan (Salt Lake City, Utah); 5 - Kelsey Campbell (Broomfield, Colo.); 4 - Molly Hoyer (Newton, N.J.); 3 - Lauren Bazley (Issaquah, Wash.); 2 - Anna Gaskill (Fairfax, Va.); 1 - Alyssa Rivera (Killington, Vt.)

Second Varsity Eight: The Blue Crew 2V8+ made a late push to edge top-seeded Bates in the first of two second varsity heats on Friday morning. The Bobcats jumped to an early lead, but the Blue kept pace through the first 500m. The two crews pulled away from WPI and Washington College through the 1000m mark, setting up a match race over the final 1000m. Bates (05:12.675) held a slight edge over the Blue (05:13.548) at 1500m, but a late sprint helped the Blue win the heat with a time of 06:55.012. Bates took a close second in 06:55.535, followed by WPI 07:22.377 and Washington College 07:36.945.

Wellesley 2V8+ Lineup: C - Stephanie Kim (Wellesley, Mass.); 8 - Meg Babikian (Belmont, Mass.); 7 - Zoe Cheng (Orinda, Calif.); 6 - Jocelyn Reahl (Portland, Ore.); 5 - Faye Washburn (Seattle, Wash.); 4 - Audrey Ellis (Lincolnshire, Ill.); 3 - Sloane Rice (Miami, Fla.); 2 - Rhiannon Mulligan (Santa Cruz, Calif.); 1- Katie Livingston (Wellesley, Mass.)

Saturday's NCAA Grand Finals begin with the Second Varsity Eight Grand Final at 11:12 AM. The Varsity Eight Grand Final will take place at 11:36 AM following the Varsity Eight Petite Final. Live Video for Saturday's races is available at ncaa.com.

[UPDATE: Saturday's races have been moved to 8:34 AM (2V8+) and 8:42 AM (V8+).]