May 30, 2003

Men's Varsity Eight Advance to Semi-Finals of 2003 IRA Championships

May 30, 2003

Cherry Hill, NJ - The Brown varsity eight cleared its first big hurdle yesterday at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships but the next hurdle will be a tough one for the Bears to get over.

Brown made the semifinals in the varsity eights by outlasting Oregon State and Princeton in an afternoon repechage on the Cooper River Reservoir in New Jersey on Thursday May 29.

Brown's victory wasn't assured until the very last stoke of the race, as the other crews were closing on the Bears. Only 0.38 of a second separated first-place Brown from third place finisher Princeton.

Brown's time for the 2,000 meters was 5:48.37. Oregon State did 5:48.58 and Princeton did 5:48.75. Dowling and Virginia, the other two crews in the race, were never a factor.

Brown varsity coach Paul Cooke was happy to win but was restrained in his emotions. "I don't think it was out best race," he said, "but I think we did a good job of hanging in there and getting the job done."

The Brown varsity led all the way and at one point Cooke felt the Bears had a half-length on Oregon State and a full length on Princeton. This was midway through the race.

Then, Oregon State and Princeton charged back. "They started creeping up and we started to look a little tired," Cooke said. "We weren't as sharp as we were this morning but the main thing was we did win."

Cooke would have been a lot less happy had he known what the break of the draw had put him up against today, Friday May 30. The Bears must face three of the top four rated crews in the regatta-Harvard, Wisconsin and California-in their semifinal heat today. The Bears must finish third to make the grand final and that means beating one of those three.

Two other Brown crews, the freshman eight and the open four, advanced to the semifinals yesterday. The Brown freshmen advanced by winning their heat by more then a length over Wisconsin, which had beaten them at the Eastern Sprints two and a half weeks ago. The open four finished second in its morning heat but won its repechage heat in the afternoon.

The Brown freshmen will race Penn, Yale, Princeton, Washington and Cal-Davis in an early afternoon heat today. The Brown open four, which includes one freshman and three upperclassmen, will be pitted against Penn, George Mason, Minnesota, Wisconsin B and Michigan. Both those Brown crews need to finish third to make the grand final.

Two other Brown entries, the second-varsity eight and the pair, lost yesterday. The second varsity finished third in its morning heat and need a second place finish in its repechage heat to advance to the semi-finals. Brown led briefly in that race but couldn't sustain the pace and dropped to fourth at the finish.

This year's IRA Championships is the biggest regatta in the history of the event with 57 schools and 1,300 rowers in attendance.