GOLD RIVER, Calif. -- For the first time in program history, Wellesley College captured the Division III national title Saturday at the 2016 NCAA Rowing Championships at Lake Natoma.
Wellesley strung together a Varsity Eight Grand Final victory and a runner-up finish in the Second Varsity Eight Grand Final for the national title.
The Blue made history on Saturday, having never finished higher than third in the team standings or won an individual championship. Wellesley (6:46.100), the second-seeded team in the Grand Eight Final, edged second-place Williams (6:47.405) by more than a second. In the V8 Petite Final, Washington College (7:07.882) captured the win over William Smith (7:12.158).
In the second V8 final, Bates was crowned champion for the third-straight year. Never trailing in the race, the Bobcats broke the NCAA DIII Championship record, finishing in 6:50.927. Bates bested its own Championship record of 7:05.465, set last year also at Lake Natoma. Wellesley crossed the line in second in a time of 6:59.315, with both Bates and Wellesley breaking the 2V8 seven-minute mark for the first time in championship history. Rounding out the placing included Williams (third, 7:06.509) and Pacific Lutheran (fourth, 7:21.713). William Smith won the Petite Final with a 21-second victory over Washington College.
In the final team standings Wellesley ended the day with 40 points, four ahead of Bates (36), followed by Williams (35), Pacific Lutheran (27), Washington College (20) and William Smith (19).
In the Division I races, California, Ohio State and Virginia each qualified all three boats to tomorrow’s grand finals.
In the Division I Varsity Eight semifinals, California and Stanford each posted semifinal victories to advance to the grand final In the first semi, California (6:19.800) crossed in front of Ohio State (6:21.548) by nearly two seconds, with Virginia (6:21.968) also moving on to the grand final. In the second semi, Stanford (6:18.911) came away victorious in the closest race of the day, edging Brown (6:19.515) and Princeton (6:19.550). Texas, which finished fourth in the race, just missed out advancing to the final six by .09 seconds.
In the Varsity Eight C/D semifinals, Gonzaga and Washington State came away with heat victories over Yale and Duke, respectively.
In the Second Varsity Eight races, Ohio State (6:21.901) rowed to a three-second win over Texas (6:25.035) in the first semifinal. Texas, which started in lane 4, was fourth midway through the race before pulling past Virginia and Brown for second place. Virginia (6:25.896) finished third to advance to the grand final. In the second semifinal, California never trailed as he pulled to the victory, nearly three seconds ahead of Washington (6:24.020) and well ahead of third-place Princeton (6:29.206). All three boats move to Sunday’s grand final.
Duke and Indiana came away with race victories in the C/D semifinals, both wins by more than three seconds.
In the Varsity Four A/B semifinals, the top-three seeded boats earned advancing placings. Washington (7:06.693) won its first race of the championships, while California (7:09.186) and Michigan (7:12.151) placed second and third, respectively. In the second semifinal, four teams battled for top-three spots to advance to tomorrow’s finals. Stanford pulled to an early lead in the first 500m, but second-seeded Virginia closed the distance at the midway point in the race. The Cavaliers crossed the line first in 7:12.272, with Ohio State putting together a strong back half of the race to finish second in 7:13.784. Stanford captured the third spot in 7:14.008, ahead of Yale (7:15.435).
Racing in Division II was slight as only repechage races took place for the Varsity Eight and the Varsity Four divisions. In the V8, Central Oklahoma used a six-second victory (6:52.820) over Humboldt State (6:58.220). In the V4, Western Washington took first (7:46.753) over Mercyhurst (7:49.376).
The 2016 NCAA Rowing Championships conclude Sunday where the national champions will be crowned for Division I and II. Racing from Lake Natoma begins at 8 a.m.