This weekend, the North Carolina women’s rowing team traveled to Clemson, S.C., to compete in the ACC Championship regatta against some of the top teams in the country.
At 8:05 a.m. on Friday, the competition began with two Third Varsity Eight heats. In this event, the Tar Heels went up against Notre Dame, Clemson and No. 14 Duke, but fell short as they came in at fourth place.
Three ACC teams are currently ranked among the latest Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association Poll with Syracuse headlining the group at No. 11, followed by No. 14 Duke and No. 15 Virginia.
Continuing on Friday, the Varsity Eight squad rose above Boston College to once again receive a fourth-place finish with a time of 6:55.692 after Syracuse, Louisville and Clemson came out on top.
For the third out of five total events, the Second Varsity Eight team competed against four other ACC teams and fell to fifth after falling behind fourth-place Boston College by nearly 10 seconds.
To round out Friday’s festivities, the Varsity Four and Second Varsity Four completed in a set of four total heats. In these two events, North Carolina finished in fourth place to end the day.
Since the Tar Heels earned lower ranks in their Friday preliminaries, they went on to compete in the Petite Final on Saturday, rather than the Grand Final.
With action beginning at 8:05 a.m. once again, North Carolina was up against a much shorter list of competitors on Saturday. In matchups versus Notre Dame, Miami and Boston College, the Petite Final may not earn the team a medal, but is a place to display its talent.
Although UNC fell to last place in three of its events, the Third Varsity Eight and Varsity Eight proved to be the most successful.
Coming in less than four seconds behind Boston College in the Third Varsity Eight, the Tar Heels came in second but rose over Miami by 22 seconds.
UNC’s First Varsity Eight received the team’s first winning spot in the championship when they defeated both Notre Dame and Boston College to close out North Carolina’s time on the water.
Who stood out?
Throughout the season and these two days of competition, the entire team showed immense growth, but the strength of the First Varsity Eight team was the most noticeable in this championship.
On Friday, the squad came in fourth with a time of 6:55.692 but decided that they wanted to go for a better time to finish the Petite Final.
Improving their time by over 15 seconds with a time of 6:40.024 on Saturday, this team definitively earned its first-place finish.
When was it decided?
The match was essentially decided once UNC fell behind higher-ranked teams such as No. 11 Syracuse, No. 14 Duke and No. 16 Virginia during preliminary competition on Friday. This lost the team a chance to compete in the Grand Final and receive a medal, but still gave the Tar Heels a chance to hone their skills for future matchups.
Why does it matter?
Although North Carolina may not have received the top-ranked finishes or place in the Grand Final it may have hoped for, this championship run showed the team’s immense improvement over the season and the caliber it might bring in the future.
This competition also brought some of UNC’s best times of the season in all events, which were several seconds less than times from the crew’s most recent meet at the Lake Wheeler Invitational, which was just less than a month ago,
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels’ postseason schedule remains to be seen, as selections for the NCAA Division I Championship regatta will be announced on May 17.