INDIANAPOLIS -- The heat stage of the 2014 NCAA Rowing Championships went exactly the way No. 1-ranked Bates wanted on Friday morning, with the Bobcats advancing both of its boats through to Saturday's grand finals.
Bates' first varsity eight (WV8) defeated Wellesley in its heat, after the Bobcats' second varsity eight (W2V8) trounced the competition in its heat. Bates and Trinity (Conn.) will be the only teams to have two rested boats in Saturday's grand finals, which determine the team championship. The Bobcats are favored to win, which would represent the first NCAA team championship in school history.
Bates' first varsity eight (WV8) edged Wellesley in its heat, covering the 2,000-meter course at Eagle Creek Park in 6:43.75 to Wellesley's 6:45.26. Bates led by about three seats one minute in, but the Blue pulled up
Both Bates and Wellesley earned automatic berths in Saturday's grand final, while Wesleyan (6:51.53) and Puget Sound (7:15.36) took third and fourth, respectively. Defending champion Williams won the second WV8 heat Friday morning, topping Trinity 6:43.039 to 6:48.679; both of Bates' chief rival boats will skipped Friday afternoon's repechage stage and moved into Saturday morning's grand final, scheduled for 11:20 a.m. ET.
Bates' W2V8 established a deck-length lead just 80 meters into the day's first heat, and led by open water against both Williams and Wellesley just one minute into the race. At the 1,000-meter mark the Bobcats had 1 1/2 boat-lengths of open water over Williams, enabling the boat to lay off the throttle down the stretch and still post a 6:55.506 to 7:10.459 victory versus the rival Ephs. Wellesley was third in 7:14.814. In the second W2V8 heat, Trinity topped Wesleyan 7:04.682 to 7:13.465 to join Bates in Saturday's grand final, which starts at 11 a.m.