PHOTO AND STORY BY CHIP DAVIS
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Tight finishes in the semifinals for both the men’s and women’s eights set the fields for Sunday’s A finals at the American Collegiate Rowing Association National Championship Regatta on a rainy Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Quinn Klocke’s ninth-seeded Notre Dame men’s crew won Friday’s time trial and finished second to UCLA in the first A/B semifinal. “I can’t say I was super surprised. Definitely pleased, but I wasn’t overly surprised. We’ve seen some speed throughout the course of the whole year.
“This group is probably the hardest workers we’ve had at Notre Dame. Can’t say there are any complaints about them. I’m proud of the work they’ve put in. They’ve overcome a lot of adversity this spring. Excited to see what they can do.”
Virginia finished third and will be joined the A final Sunday by defending champion George Washington, Michigan, and Rutgers, who beat out Minnesota in the second A/B semifinal. First-year Gophers coach Scott Armstrong is enjoying a return to collegiate rowing after coaching Dartmouth to Eastern Sprints and IRA victories in the early 90’s and has a lot to look forward to at Minnesota.
“It’s been great. The Mississippi flooded [this spring] so we’ve had some challenges. They’re peaking at the right time. The biggest thing is getting guys to believe they can compete with the best ACRA crews in the country. They were sixth in the time trial, they’re knocking at the door,” said Armstrong before the semi.
“There’s only one senior and the second boat is entirely sophomores. There’s a lot of growth to happen.”
In the top women’s eights, Bowdoin, Middlebury, and Vermont advanced to the A final from the first semifinal with blistering sprints that left Purdue in fourth.
“It was amazing,” recalled Vermont senior coxswain Maddy Metcalft afterwards. “We knew that Middlebury and Purdue tend to rate higher than we do, but we know we can have really efficient strokes, so we knew that was going to be a battle going in. Right before the sprint, we were bow ball to bow ball with Purdue. The sprint that we’ve been working on is called a ‘rolling start’ where basically you shorten your slide and it hikes up the rate and you’re absolutely able to hit it, so we did that.”
In the other A/B semifinal, Vanderbilt, UC Santa Barbara, and Northwestern advanced to the A final, with UC Irvine a half second back in fourth.
Vermont, who took two days to drive down from Burlington—where it was snowing on the day they left—won the women’s second eight grand final.
Cole Hundelt of Virginia Commonwealth University, Delaware’s Willian Beardwood, and Aidan Perez of Gordon College went one-two-three in the adaptive single grand final to complete racing on Saturday.
Racing in the club national championship concludes Sunday with petite and grand finals from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.