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Originally published Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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UW women's crew finish fifth in semis

The Huskies' second varsity eight boat finishes second in semis, will race in grand final

Special to The Seattle Times

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CHERRY HILL, N.J. — It went unspoken in the days leading up to the NCAA Women's Rowing Championships, but the Washington varsity eight knew it would take a perfect race just to get into today's grand final.

And judging by the times of rowing powers California, Stanford and Virginia, it would take nothing short of a miracle to win it.

On Saturday, the Huskies were far from perfect with a disappointing fifth-place finish in the semifinals on the Cooper River.

"We trained all year to get to the grand final and medal, but the crews here are so fast," said junior bow Kayleigh Mack of Roosevelt High School. "We're all disappointed in how we finished, but we're not angry at one another. We want to come back [today] and have the fight of our lives."

The Huskies' final race of the season will take place today at 8:30 a.m. in the varsity-eight petite final.

"When you're a fringy crew on the edge of being really fast and you're hoping to pick up third place to get into the final, a lot of other boats are thinking the same thing," Washington coach Bob Ernst said. "Maybe that's where they are. Maybe they're in the top 12 in the country and not in the top six."

Ernst's goal of getting three boats into today's grand final came up two boats short. Washington's second varsity-eight boat qualified by finishing second behind Stanford in Saturday's semifinal and will go for a gold medal today at 8 a.m. The Huskies' varsity-four boat finished fourth.

Saturday's varsity-eight semifinal was abruptly halted when a Clemson rower was ejected from her boat less than 100 meters into the 2,000-meter race.

"I don't know why she fell overboard," Ernst said. "She must have caught a crab. Some people respond favorably in that situation, and other people don't have the same juice the second time they start."

After the restart, the Huskies never found their rhythm and fell quickly into fourth place, well behind Virginia and Stanford.


• Seattle Pacific will participate in today's Division II grand final for the first time in the program's history after finishing second in Saturday's semifinal. The third-ranked Falcons finished 1.19 seconds behind Mercyhurst and will compete against Western Washington, which easily won its heat, finishing 25.76 seconds ahead of second-place Dowling.

"We've dropped three to five seconds in the past two weeks and I think we've opened some eyes and let people know what an at-large school can do," Seattle Pacific coach Keith Jefferson said.

• In Division III, Puget Sound finished in fifth place with 12 team points after a second-place finish in the third-level final and a sixth-place finish in the grand final.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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