After months of intense training, the Stanford women's rowing team will start its spring racing season on Saturday when it hosts the Pac-12 Women's Challenge at Redwood Shores.
The Cardinal, despite losing eight seniors from last year's fourth place finish at the NCAA Championships, returns a committed group that is eyeing another run this season.
The two months of competition will start with a conference showdown between the fifth-ranked Stanford crew and No. 16 Washington State. Fans will get their first look at the Cardinal varsity eight in just the second race of the day at 9:10 a.m. on Saturday. The 2V8 will follow at 9:40 a.m. and the varsity four at 10:10 a.m.
The only time Stanford and Washington State met last year was at the Pac-12 Championships, when the Cardinal captured its first- ever title by sweeping the varsity eight, 2V8 and varsity four races.
Following a break for high school races, Stanford's varsity eight will hit the water at 1:20 p.m. for a top five dual with No. 2 Virginia. The 2V8 will race the Cavaliers at 1:50 p.m., the varsity four at 2:20 p.m. and the 2V4 at 2:50 p.m.
At last year's Pac-12 Women's Challenge, Virginia won three of the four head-to-head races against the Cardinal. However, the varsity four win set the wheels in motion for the boat's best season in school history, showing the depth of the Stanford program in 2013-14.
The Stanford and Virginia programs also met in several races at the NCAA Championships. The Cavaliers finished two seconds ahead of the Cardinal in the 2V8 grand final for third place. Stanford got the best of the matchup in the grand final of the varsity four, finishing just under two seconds ahead for second place.
The only race on Sunday for Stanford will be at 10:10 a.m. when the second varsity four races Washington State.
Along with facing Virginia at last year's Pac-12 Challenge, the Cardinal also took on Louisville. Stanford enjoyed success in its top three boats, winning all three races before losing to Louisville in the 2V4.
No. 12 Stanford will begin its 2015 racing season this weekend at the San Diego Crew Classic in Mission Bay.
The Cardinal has been training hard since September in preparation for the next two months of racing. Stanford will be sending three boats to compete at one of the largest collegiate regattas of the season.
The San Diego Crew Classic will get started at 7:20 a.m. on Saturday. Stanford will be joined by No. 2 Cal, No. 10 Navy, No. 13 Penn, No. 18 Drexel, Grand Valley State and the University of British Columbia. The Cardinal will compete in the B heat at 8:32 a.m. against Navy, British Columbia and Grand Valley State.
The Cardinal men's 2V8 will compete for the Sharp Cabrillio Cup with 13 other boats. Stanford is in the third and final heat along with Penn, Santa Clara and UC Irvine.
Stanford's 3V8 will race on Sunday only in a final with five other squads, including Orange Coast College, San Diego State, UC-San Diego, UCSB and USD.
Last season at the San Diego Classic, the Stanford men took third in the varsity eight, sixth in the 2V8 and fourth in the men's open event. The varsity eight won its heat to advance to the grand final.
The departure of Pac-12 Athlete and Scholar-Athlete of the Year Austin Hack left a void to fill for Stanford but seniors Scott Roycroft and Kaess Smit will look to lead a talented, young team in 2014-15.