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Cal defends rowing title with second-place finish

WEST WINDSOR, N.J. -- The University of California defended
its national title by two-tenths of a second Sunday when it edged
Brown for second place in the Eights Grand Qualifier of the NCAA
women's rowing championship.

Princeton won the Eights title in an impressive 6:36.8510, but
it was the race for second and third that would decide the team
champion. Although Brown and Cal each finished with 66 points, the
Golden Bears won the title because they finished higher in the
Eights Grand Qualifier. Princeton was third with 56 points.

Brown led by three seats with 600 meters to go before Cal
started to pressure. The two boats were virtually even crossing the
finish line. After a four-minute wait, word was announced that Cal
finished second with a time 6:43.26 and Brown was third at 6:43.52.

"It was a pretty long wait," Cal coach Dave O'Neill said.
"But when we heard 'Second, California,' that was the sweetest
time we ever heard the word California."

Brown, which has won four of the previous eight NCAA titles and
has never finished lower than third in the team standings, won the
Fours in 7:41.10 and the Second Eights in 6:48.77.

"It's a little bittersweet, because we came so close," coach
John Murphy said. "We were up about three seats but I knew
California was coming up. It was tough, but we'll we back."

Princeton got off to a strong start and never wavered, despite
some pressure from Brown midway through. The Tigers Eight was
undefeated and ranked No. 1 nationally entering the Grand
Qualifier.

Asked if it was better to repeat then winning it the first time,
O'Neill said: "I'll never forget the first time, but in some
respects this was more meaningful."