By Jeremy Rubin
“To be able to line up against a team from the Pac-12 means everything to us,” said No. 2 women’s rowing coach Derek Byrnes after Stanford’s duel against Oregon State (OSU). “Everything, all the training in the fall and the winter, it all starts to mean something.”
While the results were not a point of emphasis for the Cardinal, Stanford excelled at Redwood Shores on Saturday, winning three out of the four total races.
Stanford swept the varsity eights but was defeated in the first varsity four race by just over two seconds. The team then rebounded from the loss and won the second varsity four by more than a 15-second margin. Stanford finished ahead of Oregon State in each of the varsity eights by more than 10 seconds in a resounding first performance of the spring.
Following an offseason spent training, this was Stanford’s first experience racing an opponent since November.
“It’s an opportunity to see what it’s like to get a 2K in and have that sensation of your legs burning, your lungs burning and starting to work out some of the kinks that are hard to replicate in practice,” Byrnes said.
Beyond just facing new opposition, experimenting and trying out new groups was a priority for coach Byrnes.
“Whatever happened today, it’s going to be completely different groups, boatings a month from now. And the boatings two months from now are going to be drastically different as well,” Byrnes said.
Both varsity eight boats finished ahead of OSU’s teams with relative ease, clocking in times of 6:39.04 and 6:44.08, respectively. With a strong foundation in place, the next step for Byrnes and the coaching staff will be fine-tuning the groups to get the most of the team.
“How to execute from round to round allows us the opportunity to move some kids around, and gives us the opportunity to try out new things internally within each boat and see how that affects them and see if we can find a little bit more speed,” Byrnes said.
Last season, the Cardinal finished second in the Pac-12, behind perennial powerhouse No. 1 Washington. At the Pac-12 championship, Stanford’s 39 points fell just 0.5 points short of the first-place Huskies. This second-place finish was Stanford’s first since 2016.
The Cardinal now have a few weeks to continue to train and develop before the Pac-12 Invitational the weekend of March 28-29. The race will again be held at Redwood Shores.
“There are kids that, once you get into the race season, will really start to come alive,” Byrnes said. “That’s sort of what we’re seeing now. And you have to create a culture where they have that opportunity and know that they have that opportunity.”
Contact Jeremy Rubin at jjmrubin ‘at’ stanford.edu.