SACRAMENTO, Calif. — On the final day of the 2008 NCAA Championships, the University of Tennessee women’s rowing team saw its Second Varsity Eight take fifth place, while the team finished 11th in the overall team standings. Brown won sixth team and fifth Second Eights title, while Yale and Washington took the First Eights and Fours championships, respectively.
“As a team, obviously we were really honored to be here,” Lady Vol Head Coach Lisa Glenn said. “It was a great championship.”
In a tight grand final in the Second Eights, Tennessee used a strong finish to overtake Pac-10 Champion Cal to take fifth place. The Orange and White crew, comprised of sophomore coxswain Sydney Newman, seniors Nina Dobratz and Marisa Mohan, sophomores Laura Miller and Kate Snider, freshman Melissa Toms, junior Caroline Howell, freshman Rachel Dooley and senior Genevieve Collins, made its move in the final 250 meters, sprinting ahead of the Golden Bears to complete the course in 6:51.6.
“I think we all came out with the mentality to win, do our best and make all the work we did over the course of the year worth it,” Newman said. “So every race, we just said to ourselves, ‘This is it, go out, put it all out there.’ So, that’s what we did, especially in the last 250 today. I just reminded them that all that work is going to get us into the top five and they just took it and ran.”
Brown took the race and the Second Eights national title, topping Ohio State by two seconds. The national championship is the Bears’ fifth in the 2V8+ and their second in the last three years. For UT, the fifth-place finish marks the best ever by a Lady Vol shell at NCAA Championships. The Orange and White’s previous top finish in the Second Eights was its eighth-place showing in 2007. The No. 5 finish earned the squad 16 points in the overall team standings.
“I was very proud of the Second Eights result,” Glenn said. “They did a nice job of letting themselves be fast and letting the training and work that we’ve done this year be revealed in fast racing on the water. So, I’m happy for them. They just kept things really positive and exciting within their boat.”
In the Varsity 4+ petite final, the Big Orange crew of senior coxswain Danielle Hmielewski, sophomore Jewell Ludwigsen, freshman Ruth Ann Johnson, and sophomores Brittany Sehring and Stephanie Hunley, earned a fifth place finish with its fastest race of the weekend. Princeton used a late push to edge Tennessee out of fourth place, with the Lady Vols finishing in 7:45.7, just two-tenths of a second off the Tigers’ pace. With the result, UT took 11th overall, earning two points towards the team total.
“The four is a very young boat,” Glenn said. “They learned every single time they went out on the water. I know that they’ll take the experience from this weekend into the program next year. I’m really glad they had the opportunity to be here and learn what a national championship is all about.”
Tennessee’s top shell competed in the First Eights “C” final against Ohio State, Clemson and Wisconsin. The Orange and White boat, racing without the services of injured senior All-South Region stroke seat Kendra Warren, finished fourth in the race with a time of 6:49.1. The Lady Vol crew consisted of sophomore coxswain Katie Ross, junior Erin-Monique Shelton, sophomore Mary Beth Dreusike, freshman Libuše Bruncvíkova’, junior Kate Brownlee, and seniors Krista Gearing, Renee Brittle, Jessica Ayers and Mary Jones, and earned three points for the team.
“I did expect the Varsity Eight to enjoy their racing a little bit more and see the fruits of their labor this year, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen that way,” Glenn said. “We have to deal with that and move on. Everyone put in a lot of hard work and wanted to do well though.”
In other First Eights action, Yale slid past at-large selection Stanford, which had led through most of the course, in the final five strokes to win its second straight V8+ title. The Bulldogs finished the exciting final in a time of 6:34.05, topping the Cardinal by just nine-tenths of a second.
In the overall team standings, the Orange and White finished with 21 total points, good for 11th place. Brown finished the day with 67 points after taking the Second Eights crown, earning its unprecedented sixth team championship. The Bears have now secured three of the last five NCAA Division I Rowing team titles. Washington took second in the overall standings, finishing with 59 points, its highest finish since 2004. Host Cal finished third overall with 53 points.
The NCAA Championships marked the final race in the Orange and White for eight Tennessee seniors in Jessica Ayers, Renee Brittle, Genevieve Collins, Nina Dobratz, Krista Gearing, Danielle Hmielewski and Mary Jones. The injured Kendra Warren was forced to sit out her final championship event as a Lady Vol.
The group of seniors has helped UT move into the upper echelon of collegiate rowing. During their tenure, the nine have pushed Tennessee to its first full-team NCAA bid and initial South Region title in 2006, its best-ever team finish at the national championships in 2007, and now, its top result for an individual shell at this year’s NCAA event.
“With a large group graduating, I’m really excited about the promise for the future with the younger athletes and how well they’ve done here,” Glenn said.
Tennessee Finals Results
|First Eights “C” Final (13-16)||Time||Points|
|(Ross [cox], Shelton, Dreusike, Bruncvíkova’, Brownlee, Gearing, Brittle, Ayers, Jones)|
|Second Eights Grand Final (1-6)||Time||Points|
|(Newman [cox], Dobratz, Mohan, Miller, Snider, Toms, Howell, Dooley, Collins)|
|Fours Petite Final (7-12)||Time||Points|
|(Hmielewski [cox], Ludwigsen, Johnson, Sehring, Hunley)|
Final Team Standings