Washington, Cornell and Radcliffe Take Titles at IRA Championships

by Luke Reynolds, | Jun 01, 2014
As the men’s varsity eights came down the race course on Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J., two things were clear: 1. University of Washington was in a comfortable lead. 2. The fight for second place would be dog-eat-dog.

WEST WINDSOR, N.J. – As the men’s varsity eights came down the race course on Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J., two things were clear: 1. University of Washington was in a comfortable lead. 2. The fight for second place would be dog-eat-dog.

From the start, University of California had a slight lead, taking off from the stake boats at 50 strokes per minute. This lead, however, was not sustainable. Washington answered and met the Golden Bears stroke for stroke over several hundred meters. By the 750-meter mark, Washington had taken over, and it quickly became clear they were not willing to let anyone jeopardize that lead.

“I think that race was a culmination of years of effort,” said Washington men’s varsity eight coxswain Stuart Sims. “We wanted to go out there and make a statement. We started this season ranked sixth, and there were big question marks about what Washington could produce, and we wanted to make that crystal clear: UW is going to come and produce.”

Now in second place, Cal attempted to stay in contention for the title and not let Washington slip away. Behind the Golden Bears sat Princeton University, Harvard University and Brown University duking it out in a bunch, trying to establish third place. Harvard would soon fall behind, leaving Princeton and Brown to fight for the bronze medal.

Brown gained a slight lead over the Tigers, establishing their place in third. At the 1,500-meter mark the Bruins, unhappy with third, turned up the rate and began taking seats. Even with a California answer, Brown crossed the finish line ahead of the Bears with a time of 5:39.626 for the silver medal.

In first place, Washington earned its fourth-consecutive national title in a time of 5:37.113. The Huskies would also win their ninth consecutive Jim Ten Eyck Memorial Trophy for overall points.

“I’m super privileged to coach an amazing group of people,” Washington’s head coach, Michael Callahan, said. “This year, how we started and where we ended, is incredible. We called it ‘grit’ because we kind of stumbled starting off, and then we just got to work and over the winter they just did incredible work. I always believed we could do it, but it just goes to show if you get everyone on the same goal and together, you can really accomplish quite a bit.”

In the lightweight men’s eight competition, Yale University got off the stake boat with a slight lead over Columbia University, Harvard and Cornell University. The four were soon sitting nearly even with each other, fighting for a lead. The Eli’s would soon find themselves fighting Columbia for second place, with Harvard slightly behind the two and Cornell now leading the pack.

At the 750-meter mark, the Eli’s fell behind the top three crews, leaving Cornell with a comfortable lead and Harvard and Columbia jousting for second place. Harvard led a charge right before the 1,000-meter mark putting themselves in second place. The Crimson would hold this position until the end, finishing with a time of 5:48.463 behind Cornell’s 5:47.921 and in front of Columbia’s 5:49.962.

“As far as the weekend goes and coming off this victory, that was one heck of a race by Harvard,” Cornell’s lightweight coach Chris Kerber said. “I don’t think our guys saw them coming, and we knew we had a lot of confidence going into this race, but Harvard showed this league is incredibly, incredibly competitive, and it’s anyone’s race right up until the last stroke.”

The lightweight women’s event was one of the closest races of the day and ended with Stanford University’s six-seat fainting just before the finish line. The Cardinal led the majority of the 2,000-meter race with Radcliffe and Bucknell University not far behind. At the 500-meter mark, Stanford had a seven-seat lead over Radcliffe, which had a few seats on Bucknell. Around 300 meters to go, Radcliffe increased their speed, cutting down the Cardinal’s lead and eventually taking the lead themselves.

Radcliffe would take home gold and the Camden County Freeholders Trophy with a time of 6:41.592. Stanford would take silver not more than a second behind in 6:42.278 and Bucknell, less than 0.3 seconds behind with bronze at 6:42.584.

“I think the weekend was phenomenal,” Radcliffe head coach Lou Berl said. “We had a great attitude the whole weekend. We had fun; we worked hard. There was nothing that was going to stop us. I wasn’t quite sure how we were going to do that, [win the lightweight women’s eight event] but we talked a lot about the sprint. It needed to be done, and they did it better than I could’ve dreamed.”

The men’s second varsity eight title and the Kennedy Challenge Cup was taken by California, with a time of 5:42.880 with Princeton in second and Washington in third. California last won this event in 2003. Princeton clocked a 5:45.133 and earned the Clayton W. Chapman Trophy for most improved points accumulated.

For complete results visit View a race photo gallery on USRowing’s Flickr page.

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