Stanford improves its position at NCAA golf tournament


Maverick McNealy's even-par 72 led the Stanford men's golf team Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Championships. Stanford's 9-over 297 was 13 strokes better than its opening round at The Concession Golf Club in Florida, a par-72 track playing at 7,483 yards.

"We made progress today and played better, but still need to tighten up our games," Stanford coach Conrad Ray said. "It comes down to hitting our targets and being more comfortable on the greens."

The Cardinal is in 26th place at 31-over after 36 holes.

The event resumes Sunday. The top 15 teams after 54 holes of stroke play will advance to a fourth round of stroke play. After the fourth round, the top eight teams will head to match play to determine the team champion.

Starting on the back nine, McNealy bogeyed his first and seventh holes and did not fault again. He played his final 11 holes at 1-under for a score that was six shots better than his previous.

McNealy putted much better than his opening round and felt more comfortable reading the ever-challenging greens. His first shot of the day found water down the right side of the first fairway, but he recovered to save bogey.

Viraat Badhwar had three birdies during a round of 76, and Franklin Huang's 3-over came with one bogey on the back nine.

Stanford received a 2-over from David Boote, highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 third. Boote buried a pitching wedge on the fly from 117 yards out, a shot that required a bit of surgery for the damaged cup.

"My lucky number must be 117," Boote said after the round.

Jeffrey Swegle, who led Stanford in round one with a 2-over, was 6-over during his second circuit.

Women's rowing

Stanford's varsity eight advanced to the Grand Final and the 2V8 missed out by a fraction of a second on Saturday at the NCAA Championships at Lake Natoma in Gold River.

"The V8 had a good race," Stanford coach Yasmin Farooq said. "It's great they will have an opportunity to show what they can do in the grand final and compete for a trophy."

Ohio State got out to an early lead at the 500-meter mark with Stanford and Washington right on their heels.

The three boats separated a little more by the halfway point, but stayed in the same order.

Washington fought hard to overtake the Cardinal down the stretch but could not do it. Ohio State won with a time of 6:29.322, Stanford took second with a 6:33.274 and Washington was third.

"We didn't have our best race yesterday, so we all knew we had a better performance in us," said junior Kay Rusher. "Today we wanted to be really aggressive and we executed. We are excited to see how we can improve it for tomorrow."

The 2V8 semifinal ended up being quite a battle with three boats finishing within 0.257 seconds of each other.

Yale, Washington State and Stanford all came into the final 10 strokes about as close as they could be to each other. The finish line horn sounded repeatedly three times without any space in between.

"The photo finish in the 2V8 semifinal was tough," said Farooq. "For our sport, it's 'May Madness' and we embrace that races can come down to the final strokes. It's just a reminder of the strength and depth of the competition in NCAA rowing today."

The entire race was a neck-and-neck fight between Stanford, Washington State and Yale. All three were in second, third or fourth place at one time or another and they were never over two seconds apart from each other.

The varsity four was also in an A/B final on Saturday. The boat qualified through the reps on Friday, racing twice to start the weekend.

Early on in the race Virginia, Brown, Washington and Washington State all separated themselves from Stanford and Texas.

The Cardinal went back and forth with the Longhorns for most of the race and were able to beat them out in the end with a time of 7:37.184, about 1.5 seconds faster than Texas.

The varsity four will race in the petite final.

Men's rowing

Stanford's varsity four will have its shot at a national championship on the final day of the IRA National Championships at Lake Mercer in New Jersey.

In the second semifinal, the Cardinal four came away with the victory to advance to Sunday's Grand Final.

Stanford beat Wisconsin by about two seconds, finishing with a time of 6:25.781 on Saturday. The Cardinal found success with a good start and then a consistent, steady row.

"We got off to a better start today than we did yesterday," said sophomore Erik Holmvik. "Our focus was on getting off the line quick. We were then able to get into a rhythm."

Stanford took the lead early and held it throughout the middle 1,000 meters of the race. Wisconsin really pushed them at the end, but the Cardinal had too big of a lead from a strong performance early on.

"It is excellent to have this opportunity and we are all very excited for tomorrow," said Holmvik. "This isn't just for us. We are also excited to represent the program."

Lightweight rowing

No. 1 Stanford put itself in a good position for Sunday's grand finals with wins in the varsity eight and varsity four heats on Saturday morning at Lake Mercer in New Jersey.

"We executed the plan we wanted to," Cardinal coach Derek Byrnes said. "We had two good, clean heats and put ourselves in a good position to be in for the final."

Saturday provided windier conditions for the crews on the water early in the morning as it did yesterday.

The first heat of the lightweight varsity eight start the second day of the IRA National Championships. Stanford was in the middle lane of the race, its first of the weekend.

The Cardinal had a solid start and got out to a two seat lead by around the 400 meter mark. That is when they started making a move on No. 4 Princeton and No. 5 Wisconsin. By the 750 mark Stanford had stretched the lead to just under a boat length.

From there it was all senior coxswain Jordan Duval-Smith and the top-ranked Cardinal. They kept the lead just that for the last 1,250 meters, as every time either Princeton or Wisconsin tried to make a move Stanford answered and wouldn't give up an inch.

The rest of the race was a battle for the second automatic qualifying spot into the Grand Final. Princeton and Wisconsin were neck and neck until the final stretch when the Badgers had a stronger finish and advanced by a few seats.

Stanford's winning time was 6:34.018, just under three seconds ahead of Wisconsin.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Athletics

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