Radcliffe Heavyweight Crew Varsity Eight, Second Varsity Advance to NCAA Semifinals

The Harvard-Radcliffe varsity eight (pictured) and second varsity rowed their way to the A/B semifinals, which will take place on Saturday. (Harvard Athletic Communications)

INDIANAPOLIS – In near-perfect racing conditions at Eagle Creek Park, the Harvard-Radcliffe varsity eight and second varsity boats each rowed their way to the A/B semifinals at the 2014 NCAA Division I Rowing Championships on Friday.

The varsity eight, which raced in the repechage in the afternoon, enjoyed a tremendous sprint to the finish to take second place, while the second varsity – also forced to race in the afternoon – stormed out to take the top spot in the first rep, securing Radcliffe's second boat in the semifinals set for Saturday.

In Heat 4 to open the morning, the varsity eight strung together a strong run over the first 1000 meters, back just a couple of seats to fellow Ivy League foe Brown and Washington, but a consistent Indiana boat proved to be too much as the Black & White fell to fourth place with a time of 6:32.203.

From there, paired in a six-lane set in Rep 1, the 1V was a part of one of the closer contests of the day, as six-tenths of a second separated Southern California from the Black & White in second and UCLA in third through 1000 meters. After UCLA held an advantage over Radcliffe past 1500 meters, the Black & White powered its way back into the thick of things, taking second place (6:31.193), a mere 1.4 seconds behind USC, to advance to the A/B semis.

The second varsity, racing against powers Ohio State and California took third in Heat 3 of the morning session. The 2V kept up the pace for much of the length of the course, but the Buckeyes and Golden Bears improved their times every 500 meters to pull away in open water.

In its rep, the 2V was held off after the first 500 meters by Southern California, but by the 1000 meter mark, the Black & White pushed itself into the driver seat and didn't look back. Increasingly fast 500-meter splits allowed Radcliffe to stave off USC and Wisconsin to take first in 6:42.265 on its way to the A/B semis on Saturday.

The Radcliffe varsity four, which drew the likes of Cal, Virginia, UCLA and Northeastern in its morning race, took fourth with a time of 7:36.078 down to the finish line. The Black & White had the unfortunate task of dealing with Ohio State in its rep in the afternoon, after the Buckeyes were felled by a damaged rudder in their morning race, but Radcliffe made its way to the C/D semifinals with a sixth place finish (7:38.733) behind OSU, Michigan, Washington State, Louisville and San Diego.

Action at Eagle Creek begins Saturday at 8:50 a.m., with the varsity eight rowing at 9 a.m., the second varsity at 9:30 a.m. and the four at 9:50 a.m.