CLEMSON, S.C. – Fifth-ranked Virginia won every race en route to capturing the team title at the 2011 ACC Championship Saturday on Clemson’s Lake Hartwell. For Virginia rowing, it was the 11th conference title in the 12-year history of the rowing championship and the Cavaliers swept all four races for the second-consecutive year.
“It is awesome to win the ACC Championship again,” UVa head coach Kevin Sauer said. “We were humble but hungry, coming into this thing prepared and ready to go. We are very glad we were able to win all four races and the [exhibition] Second Varsity Four as well. The Varsity Eight race was a barnburner all the way down the course; Clemson did a great job, and we were glad to get our bow in front.”
Virginia finished first in the Varsity Eight (24 points), Second Varsity Eight (18 points), Varsity Four (12 points) and Novice Eight (six points) to claim the team title with 60 points in front of an ACC-record crowd of 1,022. No. 14 Clemson was second with 49 points, followed by Duke with 41 points, Miami with 23 points, Boston College with 22 points and North Carolina with 14 points.
Following the regatta, UVa’s Sauer was named the ACC Coach of the Year for the seventh time in his career and second-consecutive year. Virginia rowers Claudia Blandford, Christine Roper, Martha Kuzzy, Kristine O’Brien and coxswain Sidney Thorsten were named to the All-ACC team. Kuzzy and O’Brien added the All-ACC nods to their ACC Freshman of the Year awards (Kuzzy in 2009 and O’Brien in 2010). Thorsten, a junior, was a repeat selection to the all-conference team.
“We have a lot of kids that contribute to this program and a few of them are always going to be named All-ACC, but in my book every one of them is an All-ACC selection,” Sauer said. “We have great depth and great camaraderie that is really cool to see.”
Virginia’s Varsity Eight of Thorsten, O’Brien, Roper, Keziah Beall, Kuzzy, Fiona Schlesinger, Carli Goldberg, Blandford and Taylor Levine improved its record to 5-3 this season with a hard-fought victory over the second-place Clemson Tigers. UVa and Clemson separated themselves from the field off of the start line, and although UVa led at the 750-meter mark, Clemson was within striking distance. The teams continued to battle for the remainder of the race, and Virginia ended up winning by a slim 1.2-second margin (6:23.9 to 6:25.1).
“We knew that Clemson has been getting faster every year and we knew they were going to throw everything they had at us,” senior All-ACC selection and Varsity Eight member Christine Roper said. “So I think we did a good job in trusting our own fitness and our hard work this week. And it paid off. It’s great, you come to a program like Virginia with so much depth and so much tradition so it’s definitely nice to leave with a trophy and a medal and keep that tradition alive. With every win, you feel like you can build off of it and get more speed. From here we have motivation to keep getting faster.”
Clemson’s Varsity Eight was named the ACC Crew of the Year. Boston College freshman and Eagles’ Varsity Eight member Alycia Da’Loia Moore was named the ACC Freshman of the Year.
The Cavaliers’ Second Varsity Eight improved to 7-1 for the 2011 season, and also edged second-place Clemson for the ACC title. UVa’s Second Varsity Eight crew of coxswain Molly Frear, MacKenzie Leahy, Marelle Myers, Carolyn Glandorf, Jenny Shultis, Morgan Joseph, Brandy Herald, Cara Linnenkohl and Lauren Shook had a time of 6:35.9 that was 4.9 seconds better than Clemson’s time of 6:40.8.
In the Varsity Four, UVa was strong off the line and held a boat-length lead over Clemson at the 1,000-meter mark. The crew of coxswain Sarah Jordan, Ruth Retzinger, Kaity McCullough, Chelsea Simpson and Susanne Grainger increased its lead down the course and won by a commanding 10.5 seconds. UVa’s winning time was 7:17.5, compared to Clemson’s 7:28.0.
In the Novice Eight, Virginia got off to another strong start and held a significant lead at the 1,000-meter mark. Virginia’s crew of coxswain Brittany Wengel, Allison Mayberry, Mary Nilan, Dana Walsh, Paige Terry, Emily Pik, Katie Walker, Ashley Hendrickson and Colleen Warren held on for a first-place time of 6:49.5. Duke finished second with a time of 7:01.0.
The exhibition race of Second Varsity Fours was also won by UVa, as the crew of coxswain Sarah Shanfield, Lieve Pitts, Colleen Bauk, Katherine Stewart and Elspeth Missel won with a time of 7:33.6. Clemson was second (7:35.3) followed by Virginia’s crew of coxswain Miriam Kaplan, Liza Tullis, Caroline Sweeny, Betsy Nilan and Ann Reid (7:37.7).
“We continue to be encouraged by the progress of the Fours and the first years,” associate head coach Steve Pritzker said. “Our goal continues to be the end of the season so it was a good step forward in starting to see the positive results of hard work.”
“Our thanks to Clemson and head coach Robbie Tenenbaum for putting on a great ACC Championship,” Sauer said.
Virginia is next in action on Saturday, April 30 at Princeton, N.J. The Cavaliers take on the top-ranked Tigers in addition to No. 19 Tennessee and Columbia.
“We have Princeton next weekend, they are ranked No. 1, as well as Tennessee and Columbia,” Sauer said. “We’ve got to rally and get better this week to be competitive and get faster between now and then. There are no easy days or off weekends.”