Bears Edge Yale in Tiebreak to Claim Second at Championships

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With three teams battling it out in race after race for first place in the NCAA team title, the Cal, Stanford and Yale varsity eight crews seemed destined to compete with one another right down to the finish line.

Expectations were certainly met on that front.

Neither jet lag nor an unfamiliar setting seemed to affect either Bay Area crew, as Stanford and Cal went one-two, with the Cardinal capturing victories in the varsity eight event along with their overall team title.

Cal clawed from behind to take second, scoring the same amount of points as the Yale crew, but surpassing the Bulldogs in the total team points trophy to solidify sole possession of second.

Just three years removed from winning back-to-back NCAA championship team titles, the Cal women's crew team finished with 85 points-three behind Stanford-at the 2009 NCAA Championships at Cooper River Park in Cherry Hill, N.J.

Coming into the weekend armed with their recent success at the Pac-10 Championships, the Bears appeared to be in good position to make some noise in the Garden State.

"We felt good after the Pac-10's because we had some really successful races there," Adrienne Keller said. "We worked extremely hard between then and the NCAA's to get even faster. And I don't think traveling was a problem because we flew in to New Jersey a week ago and had plenty of time to adjust."

The varsity eight looked like it would falter in the Grand Final but managed to work itself into a third place finish behind Stanford and Virginia in the closing strokes. Its final time of 6:14.76 was two seconds behind the Cavaliers. Like the varsity eight, the Bears varsity four had no easy task to increase the team standings. The varsity four had to surge from dead last to finish in fourth, just .28 seconds ahead of Stanford.

Earlier, in possibly the most exhilarating race of the day, the second varsity eight, which led for the first half of the 2000-meter race, was overcome by the Bulldogs, losing by half of a second to claim the silver medal.

Cal's varsity eight, which captured its second bronze medal in as many years, will be graduating five seniors including coxswain Katy Milton, Iva Obradovic, Lauren Nowinski, Elena Humphreys and Lou Kinder.

However, Keller, the junior stroke of the second varsity eight, will be one of eleven athletes returning from the top two boats.

Add to that the guidance of 11 year veteran coach Dave O'Neil at the helm, and the Bears could well be poised to make another run at the NCAA championships in 2010.

"We're going to have a really strong group of returning members as well as a lot of good recruits coming in that will help us continue to build towards a championship," Keller said. "It's a new process ever year to get to the NCAA's, but with Dave's excellent coaching and everyone's hard work we should have another successful year."


Contact Danny Freisinger at [email protected]

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