INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – The Brown women's crew team concluded competition at the 2013 NCAA Championships on Sunday morning, asserting itself as one of the top teams in the nation with a seventh place finish. The Bears put forth a true team effort over the course of the three-day competition, improving with each race and leaving their mark on the Eagle Creek Park racecourse.
"We're obviously very pleased," said head coach John Murphy. "Everybody improved from the Ivy Championships, which is the goal, and with an enormous amount of freshmen and sophomores we really look forward to the races to come.
"We also don't want to overlook the upperclassman," added associate head coach Phoebe Murphy. "The three seniors and the junior class really played a huge part in providing leadership. Our performance was an incredible team effort and showed huge progress from last year."
"They gave it their very best this weekend and we couldn't ask for more," said Murphy.
Brown's varsity four was the first to compete, racing in the Grand Final against Ohio State, USC, Washington, Virginia and Washington State. Coming off of a strong showing in the semifinals, the Bears got out to a fast start and raced with intensity for 2000 meters, crossing the finish line at 7:21.125 to take fifth place. Ohio State won the gold medal, with USC and Washington claiming silver and bronze, respectively.
"It was pretty exciting," said senior Morgan Lee, who raced in the four. "Of the five of us there were four freshman and they didn't act like freshman at all, they were really mature. It was exciting to race with them, and I look forward to seeing what they can do over the next three years."
The Bears also raced in the Grand Final of the second varsity eight, vying for the national title against Ohio State, Cal, USC, Yale and Princeton. The crew jumped out to an early lead, holding a slight advantage over the field at the 500 meter mark, but Ohio State and Cal began to challenge in the middle of the race, pulling ahead with 500 meters to go. USC charged in the final meters, but the Bears rowed with determination, holding on to the third place spot and winning a bronze medal with a time of 6:30.149. Ohio State took the top spot, while Cal clinched second place.
"I'm really proud of our team and how far we have come this season," said senior co-captain Ali Mittelberger, a member of the second varsity eight boat. "We are a young team, more than half of us are freshmen, and everybody stepped up to the plate. Everyone raced their best, and I think that this team that we are graduating from will win NCAAs in the next few years."
The morning concluded with the varsity eight races, and Brown left it all in the water, racing aggressively and sitting in second place after 500 meters. The rest of the crews battled back however, slowly overtaking the Bears, but the squad stayed strong, fighting to the finish and crossing in a time of 6:32.589. Their performance earned them 12th place in the event and valuable team points. Cal, Princeton and Ohio State claimed the top three spots in the varsity eight.
"Our freshmen and sophomore classes are incredible," said senior co-captain Tessa Gobbo. "It was an honor racing with them, and I'm sad that I am going to miss what comes next for this team. Our performance this weekend was exciting and it shows that Brown women's crew is definitely headed in the right direction."
Overall, Brown finished in seventh place with 91 points, a marked improvement from last season's 14th place finish. Ohio State took the team title with 126 points, Cal finished second with 124 and Princeton claimed the third spot with 112 points. The Bears finished second amongst Ivy League teams competing in the event, and the squad remains the winningest program in NCAA Division I Rowing history with seven national titles to its credit.