The program’s eighth top-five finish at the NCAA Championships, fourth overall team title at the South/Central Regional Championships and school-record ninth-straight ACC Championship highlighted another successful season for the Virginia rowing program.
The road to the national championship regatta included Varsity Eight regular-season victories over Bucknell, Stanford, UCLA, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Oregon State in addition to postseason honors for both head coach Kevin Sauer and his talented corps of student-athletes.
The Varsity Eight crew spent most the year ranked in Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association’s (CRCA) national polls, reaching as high as No. 2 during the regular-season. The conference and regional championship team titles primed the Cavaliers for another run at the NCAA title.
For the 11th time in the 12-year history of the national championship, UVa earned a team bid and raced in all three events (Varsity Eight, Second Varsity Eight and Varsity Four).
“Overall we had a really successful year,” head coach Kevin Sauer said. “We had a great fall, capped off by our home event (Rivanna Romp), and had a really competitive and successful regular season. After winning our ninth-straight ACC Championship and fourth South/Central Regional title, we earned a berth to the NCAA Championships.”
After the final day of competition at NCAAs on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Calif., Virginia had secured a top-five finish in the team standings for the eighth time in school history.
The Varsity Four (coxswain Cristine Candland, Diane Leigh, Allison Brennan, Nora Phillips and Schafer Bomstein) had the highest UVa finish with a second-place time of 7:26.09, trailing national champion Washington (7:24.75).
In the Second Varsity Eight grand final, the crew (coxswain Mary Eddy, Amanda Chase, Lauren Shook, Helen Tompkins, Marie Long, Claudia Blandford, Annie Bohlen, Adrienne Egge and Victoria Burke) finished fourth with a time of 6:49.88. Brown won that race with a time of 6:42.42.
UVa’s Varsity Eight (coxswain Caitlin Mixter, Jennifer Cromwell, Rebecca Ryall, Lauren Hutchins, Kelsie Chaudoin, Desiree Burns, Augusta Stratos, Bridget Wandelt and Katrin Sydlik) finished fourth in its semifinal race on the second day of competition, placing it in Sunday’s petite final (places 7-12). The Cavaliers finished second in that race for an eight-place overall finish with a time of 6:38.52.
“If we are disappointed with a top-five finish, it’s only a reflection of the standards we have for the program,” Sauer said. “It helps to put it in perspective and remember that we did achieve some of the other goals we had this season.”
At the regional meet (May 17-18) in Oak Ridge, Tenn., Virginia secured the overall team title with a victory in the Varsity Eight race. Virginia has now won the South Region five times in the last six years (2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008) and the South/Central team championship four times in the last five seasons (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008).
“In a competition like Regionals, getting a win is a big deal and the Varsity Eight rowed a great race,” Sauer said. “Winning the team title, it’s obvious everyone contributed."
Prior to Regionals, the Cavaliers had a final regular-season race in Derby, Conn. (April 26) against Yale and Harvard, in which UVa came away with three victories (Open Four “B”, Open Four “C” and Second Novice Eight).
At the ACC Championship (April 19) on Lake Hartwell, S.C., Virginia dominated the competition and was victorious in the Varsity Eight, Second Varsity Eight, Varsity Four and Second Varsity Four en route to the team title.
“Throughout the year, our seniors, led by captains Kelsie Chaudoin and Mary Eddy, did a fantastic job,” Sauer said. “Our seniors did a great job in the Varsity Eight (coxswain Caitlin Mixter, Chaudoin, Bridget Wandelt and Katrin Sydlik), Second Varsity Eight (Eddy, Adrienne Egge) and Varsity Four (Diane Leigh, Allison Brennan and Schafer Bomstein).”
Sauer was named the ACC Coach of the Year for the fifth time in his career, and now turns his attention to the Under-23 selection camp, being held in Charlottesville this summer. UVa seniors Stratos and Chaudoin will be vying for a spot on the national team, which Sauer will coach.