WEST WINDSOR, N.J. – Eph head coach Kate Maloney's first trip to the NCAA Championships is off to a flying start as both of her boats won their heats comfortably this morning and have secured a berth in each of Saturday's Grand Finals.

The team score at the NCAA Championships is based on the finishes of the Varsity 1 boat in its race and the Varsity 2 boat in its race. A year ago it was possible for a Varsity 2 boat to earn a place in the Grand Final with Varsity 1 boats as the heats were comprised of boats from both Varsity 1 and Varsity 2.  This year the Varsity 1 and Varsity 2 boats will have their own races and their own Grand Finals.

Placing in Friday's heats do not earn points. They only determine which boats advance directly to the Grand Final and which boats have to row again this afternoon in the repechage versus the other non-winners for a last chance to get into a Grand Final.

The first Eph boat to take the water Friday was the Varsity 2 boat, which was competing in the very first heat of the 2012 NCAA Rowing Championships for Women being held on Lake Mercer.

Rowing for the right to capture a berth in Saturday's Varsity 2 Grand Final the Ephs burst off the line at 41 strokes per minute and by 250 meters had created a boat length lead.

By 500 meters the Ephs had created an open water lead on the field with Wellesley in second and William Smith in third. Those places would remain throughout the rest of the 1500 meters of the 2000-meter race.

Williams finished in a time of 7:07.63, followed by Wellesley in 7:35.33 and William Smith was timed in 7:43.85.

The other Varsity 2 heat found Bates coming in first with a time of 7:16.44, followed by Trinity (7:22.59) and Marietta (7:45.64).

Williams and Bates both advance to Saturday's Varsity 2 Grand Final without having to row again Friday. The rest of the Varsity 2 Grand Final participants will be determined later after the results of the repechage are known.

Not to be outdone by their sisters in the Varsity 2 boat, the Eph Varsity 1 boat took an early lead with a 36.5 stroke rate off the start and 250 meters in had a ¼ boat lead on Wellesley.

After the next 250 meters the Ephs had upped their lead to a boat length, which they expanded to ½ length of open water and maintained that gap for the rest of race, crossing the finish line in 6:55.89. Wellesley claimed second finishing in 7:03.92. Third place went to Coast Guard (7:13.46) and Puget Sound was fourth (7:22.70).

Both Williams and Wellesley advanced to the Grand Finals of the Varsity 1 race Saturday where they will be joined by the Varsity 1 boats from Bates and William Smith.

In the second heat of Varsity 1 boats Bates edged out William Smith. Bates was timed in 7:02.5 and William Smith was clocked in 7:07.2. Third place went to Marietta (7:13.1) and Trinity finished fourth (7:21.5).

"We rowed a solid and consistent race and we're really looking forward to laying it all on the line tomorrow," noted senior Eph Varsity 1 coxswain Fiona Wilkes.

"Today was a good step forward for both boats," added Kate Maloney. "They checked off the boxes we wanted to check off and both boats did a really nice job. We wanted to go out early, concentrate, execute a good race, and put forth a good effort. "

The boxes are checked and the stage is now set for Saturday's Varsity 1 and Varsity 2 Grand Finals.

After the first day of competition at the NCAA Championships the quest to extend the record streak of NCAA titles to seven remains in place.

"Mercer Lake is a great venue for this championship and we're looking forward to showing some Williams speed tomorrow," stated Maloney.