The Michigan women”s crew team came within four-and-a-half seconds of winning the first women”s team national title in school history in just its fifth year as a varsity sport.
Going into the final race, No. 2 Michigan was in first place by one point over No. 3 Washington and led No. 1 Brown by seven points in the team competition. But in the first varsity eight race, Washington finished first with a time of 7:04.03, Brown placed second and Michigan third with a time of 7:08.45, giving the schools 30, 27 and 24 points, respectively.
As a result, Washington passed Michigan and won the team competition with a total of 58 points, Michigan placed second with 53 points and Brown took third with 49 points.
The Wolverines had finished fifth as a team the past three years but the team”s vast improvement was tainted by their failure to win a national title.
“Certainly it”s tough to come so close and not win,” head coach Mark Rothstein said.
Senior Kate Johnson felt the same way, calling the second-place finish “bittersweet.”
Just as the team was reluctant to take second place, the first varsity eight was especially dissatisfied with its third place finish.
“We were disappointed in our race,” said Johnson, who was stroke seat in the boat. “We had a national championship race in us” she added.
They just didn”t have that race in them on Saturday, she said. “Their effort was great. It just didn”t click at the end,” Rothstein said.
In the race, Michigan fell behind early and was in fourth place at the 750-meter mark of the 2,000-meter race. During the next 500 meters, Michigan moved into third and challenged Washington for second place while Brown led.
But, in the last 500 meters, Washington pulled away from Michigan and past Brown. Michigan was unable to catch up to Brown by the finish line.
Earlier in the day, the second varsity eight boat claimed Michigan”s first rowing national title by finishing first with a time of 6:43.34 and winning by open water over second-place Washington. The win completed an undefeated season for the boat.
Although it started off in fourth place, the second varsity eight fought Brown for the lead midway through the race. Michigan broke from the pack and ended up winning by an impressive five seconds. The boat won 20 points for the team and put Michigan into the lead going into the first varsity eight Grande Final.
Michigan”s first boat to race, the varsity four, earned nine points for the Wolverines with a second-place finish behind Washington in a time of 7:35.31.
Although this was the first loss of the year for the varsity four, the rowers were not upset with their performance.
“I think we had the best race of our season,” stroke seat Liz Glenn said afterwards.
While she didn”t win a national championship at Michigan, Kate Johnson believes she accomplished her goal of the progress the program made in her presence culminating in the runner-up performance at the NCAA Championships.
“My goal coming to Michigan was to set a tradition. I feel comfortable leaving now because I feel we have arrived.”