June 6, 2009

Bears Take Two Medals at IRA's

Sacramento, CA - The men's crew wrapped up racing at the IRA Championship Regatta on Saturday, highlighted by the second varsity eight and the freshman eight taking second and third in the country respectively. The first varsity eight also turned in a solid performance, taking fourth and finishing just two seconds off of the medal stand, while the varsity four was second in the petite final to place eighth overall.

The four led off the day's action, and initially looked overmatched, as they were sixth after 500 meters. However, they slowly and steadily began moving back, passing Drexel to move into fifth at the midway point, and Loyola Maryland for fourth after 1500 meters. The Bears then unleashed an extraordinary finishing sprint, turning in easily the fastest final quarter in the final, and flying past FIT and Yale, eventually taking second with a time of 6:49.1. Northeastern won the petite final at 6:44.1, while Cal took the overall title, crossing the line in 6:32.7.

The action then shifted to the eights, with the rookies leading off. Washington took the early lead, and quickly moved away from the pack, leaving the remaining five crews to battle for second and third. With the exception of the Huskies, the race was one of the most exciting of the day, with the second through sixth crews separated by just four seconds halfway through the race. Brown held a slim advantage for the second spot, with Cornell and Harvard just two seats down, closely followed by Wisconsin and Cal. The Bears continued to lead the pack after 1500 meters, but Harvard came on strong in the last 500 to nip Bruno for second. Brown held on for third, crossing the line in 5:58.3 to earn the first medal of the day for the Bears. Washington won the event easily, with a time of 5:50.7, with Harvard second at 5:57.8, and Cal following Brown, taking fourth in 6:00.8.

The varsity crews then took center stage, leading off with the second varsity eight. Once again, Washington took a quick lead off the start, as they would hold a comfortable advantage from wire to wire, with the remaining five crews fighting for the other two medals. This time, however, Brown established itself as the firm second place crew, and refused to relinquish that position. The Bears led third-place Cal by two seconds at the halfway point, and maintained that lead through the second half, taking the silver with a time of 5:55.8. Washington took another gold, crossing the line in 5:51.5, while Cal once again followed Brown through the finish, coming in at 5:58.3. Boston University, Harvard, and Wisconsin rounded out the remainder of the grand final.

In the day's finale, the varsity eight squared off against the best crews from around the country, looking to bring a national championship to home to Brown. Unfortunately though, the West Coast boats proved too much for the Bears, as Washington, Cal, and Stanford traded the top three places throughout the race, with Bruno sitting fourth for the majority of the action. Brown struggled to find an early rhythm after the start sequence, crossing the 500 meter mark last in the field, as Stanford surged to an early lead. The Bears quickly settled in during the second quarter, however, passing Boston University and Harvard to move into fourth. Cal pulled a similar move, as the western Bears took the lead, which they would hold for much of the remainder of the race.

Entering the second half of the competition, the places remained much the same, though Stanford began to fade after a fast start, dropping behind Washington into third place. In the last 500, all six crews recorded blistering times, pouring on the sprint to the finish line. The Huskies again found a way to nose in front, passing Cal to take the varsity eight title with a time of 5:50.9. Cal was second at 5:51.8, with Stanford third in 5:56.5 and Brown fourth at 5:58.7. Harvard and Boston rounded out the field, finishing comfortably behind the Bears.