KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The members of the University of Tennessee women’s rowing team’s Second Varsity Eight shell earned Lady Vol Athlete of the Week honors following their history-making performance at last weekend’s 2008 NCAA Championships. The crew not only reached the first NCAA grand final in program history, but also set a new standard for the Orange and White, finishing fifth in the final at Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif.
Tennessee’s national championships 2V8+ crew consisted 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. Together, the squad topped Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Big Ten champion Michigan State twice en route to reaching the Lady Vols’ first grand final in program history.
In a tight grand final, UT used a strong finish to overtake Pac-10 Champion Cal to take fifth place. The Orange and White made its move in the final 250 meters, sprinting ahead of the Golden Bears to complete the course in 6:51.6. With each race, Tennessee improved its time, recording its best finish in the final.
The Second Eights became the first UT shell to reach an NCAA grand final in the program’s 12-year history. This year marked just the third time the Lady Vols have earned a full-team selection to the national championships, and the eighth time at least one Big Orange boat has made an appearance at the NCAA event.
The Lady Vol Athlete of the Week honor marks the second of the year for the rowing team. In October, the First Eights earned the honor after recording a program-best fifth-place finish in the Championship 8+ race at the Head of the Charles Regatta.