Both women's rowing crews advance to Saturday's grand finals at NCAA Championships

The Bates women's rowing team will have a chance to win its second straight NCAA title on Saturday after strong performances Friday in the opening heats of the 2018 NCAA Championships. (Aaron Morse/Bates College)

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Bates women's first varsity eight won its heat and both Bobcat crews advanced to Saturday's grand finals with strong performances Friday morning at the NCAA Rowing Championships.

The Bobcats woke up bright and early to compete in the first races of the day.

At 8:10 a.m. the second varsity eight competed in its heat with Wellesley, WPI and Washington College. The Bobcats led for the first 1500 meters but the Blue kept it close and pulled ahead of Bates by the narrowest of margins to win the heat in 6:55.012. The Bobcats finished a strong second with a time of 6:55.535. The results mean Wellesley and Bates head straight to Saturday's grand final while WPI and Washington College will compete later in the day in the repechage. On Saturday, the second varsity eight will have a chance to win its five consecutive gold medal at the NCAA Championships. 

At 8:26 a.m. the first varsity eight won its heat with a wire-to-wire victory over WPI, Wesleyan and Washington College. Led by first-year coxswain Elizabeth Folsom (San Mateo, Calif.) and senior stroke Laura Rand (Barrington, R.I.), the Bobcats raced to the finish in 6:45.594, winning by about six seconds over second-place WPI (6:51.639). 

"All the other eights have been getting faster; they have been switching people in their boats and we haven't switched anyone," Folsom said. "So we were curious how this would turn out and it went really well." 

On Saturday, the first varsity eight try will to win its first gold medal at the NCAA Championships in school history. More importantly, if the Bates crews combine to win the points title, the Bobcats would win their second straight NCAA title and their third in the last four years.

The second varsity eight's grand final is set for Saturday at 8:34 a.m. eastern time. The first varsity eight's grand final follows immediately after at 8:42 a.m.   

Bates Lineups:

WV8: Bow: Emma Wheeler; 2: Hannah Beams; 3: Grace Murnaghan 4: Rosemary Kyne; 5: Olivia Stockly; 6: Hannah Fitts; 7: Lena Rintell; Stroke: Laura Rand; c: Elizabeth Folsom 

W2V8: Bow: Claudia Glickman; 2: Grace Bake; 3: Amelia Wilhelm; 4: Grace Smith; 5: Sally Porter; 6: Emily Disler; 7: Grace Jurkovich; Stroke: Phoebe Long; c: Hanna De Bruyn

Alternate #1: Elizabeth Fischer

Alternate #2: India Lissak

Alternate Cox: Elise Grossfeld