Collegiate Championship Blog

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Welcome to the 2016 USRowing Collegiate Championship Series Blog & to the May racing season! Dedicated to all things collegiate rowing, remember to check back here each week for important links, up to date information, pictures and more! 
  • New photo gallery added!

    Jun 09, 2016
    2016 IRA Championships
  • Upset on the Shores of Lake Mercer at the 2016 IRA Championships

    Jun 06, 2016

    DSC_1806[1] copyThe 2016 Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships were a sight to behold, with impressive crews, incredible finishes and unexpected results.

    Heading into this past weekend, Yale University was the favorite to take the men’s heavyweight and lightweight eight finals after consistently holding top rankings in this spring's polls and success at the 2016 Men's Sprints. Those credentials alone, however, would not be enough to earn an IRA title for either crew.

    Strong off the start in the men's varsity eight final, University of California won the title with a time of 5:38.71, edging second-place Yale by nearly two seconds. Princeton University finished third with a time of 5:41.88.

    DSC_2005[1] copyWith an upset in the first grand final of the day, all eyes turned to the lightweight men's eight crews. As the boats charged down the course, Columbia University commanded the lead and never looked back, winning gold with a time of 5:52.06.

    Yale would go on to take second with a time of 5:54.46, and Princeton (5:58.59) rounded out the top three.

    “For the team, this is a big first for Columbia,” said Columbia head coach Nich Lee Parker. “It’s a huge testament to what these guys have done.”

    Top-ranked Stanford University defended its reputation and national title with a time ofDSC_1970 copy6:40.48. Boston University and Harvard Radcliffe College rounded out the top three in 6:43.42 and 6:47.14, respectively. 

    In a combined team effort, Cal took home the Ten Eyck Award for the best overall men's team finish with 2015 points, three points ahead of Princeton.

    “To get the overall team trophy, it shows the strength and depth of our team, so it’s the culmination of a very successful year for our team,” said Cal assistant coach Scott Frandsen.

    Columbia took the lightweight men's team point trophy with 35 points, while Stanford achieved the same on the women’s side, earning 34 points. 

    The Stanford men’s team claimed the Clayton W. Chapman Trophy for most improved team at the IRA Championships.

    Full regatta results can be found here.

  • Championships Will be Made! Finals of the 2016 IRAs

    Jun 05, 2016
  • 2016 IRA Semifinals - LIVE!

    Jun 04, 2016
  • Watch Friday Morning Heats - LIVE!

    Jun 03, 2016
  • 2016 IRA Repechage - LIVE

    Jun 02, 2016
  • IRA HEAVYWEIGHT PREVIEW

    Jun 02, 2016

    If the story sounds familiar, it should.

    Yale arrives at Mercer Lake having gone undefeated in dual races and fresh off an Eastern Sprints title, and all signs point to the New Haven school wrestling the national championship away from Washington.

    Just like last year.

    But in 2015, the Bulldogs were shell-shocked in the IRA semifinals, coming out on the wrong side of a photo finish with Harvard and Northeastern. Instead of racing for their first-ever IRA crown, they were relegated to the Petites.

    Now is their opportunity to script a different ending.

    Three weeks ago on Lake Quinsigamond, Yale backed up its national No. 1 ranking by getting off the line quickly and then holding off assorted challenges to capture the Sprints title. It’s the first time they’ve gone back-to-back at Sprints since 1981-82. They’ve also prevailed over Princeton and Brown in dual competition – the latter victory coming by nearly three lengths – and systematically cleared the field to take the San Diego Classic.

     “I’ve watched it all season long,” said Yale head coach Steve Gladstone, who has 11 IRA titles under his belt from stints at California and Brown. “They’re smart racers and they enjoy what they do. They’re very determined.”

    The Bulldogs boat is both seasoned and young. It features just two seniors – coxswain Chris Carothers and captain Hubert Trzybinski – but five others (juniors Nate Goodman, Ollie Wynne-Griffith, and Robert Hurn, and sophomores Paul Jacquot and Sholto Carnegie) have also been part of the team’s success the past two springs. Freshman Charlie Elwes and junior Stephan Riemekasten are the newcomers.

    While Yale will need to be wary of its Eastern brethren – 11 of the nation’s 13 top-ranked crews are Sprints schools – the biggest obstacle may be California. The Bears, who placed second here a year ago, arrive after clipping Washington to earn their first Pac-12 title since 2009. Most impressively in that race, they showed composure during a huge Huskies move in the third 500, holding the lead and winning by two seconds.

    The rest of the Bears’ spring dossier shows equally impressive results: a sweep of three races at the Stanford Invitational, a Redwood Shores course record (5:27.3) in their dual win over Washington, and a victory over Stanford in the “Big Row.” But the big question is whether Cal has closed the seven-second gap it had in placing behind Yale at the San Diego Classic.

    Princeton at least knows it’s in the same stratosphere as Yale. No other crew has crossed the finish line within three seconds of the Bulldogs, yet the Tigers have done it twice – falling by 2.4 seconds at Sprints after being beaten by 2.1 in their dual showdown.

    That runner-up performance at Sprints was Princeton’s best there since 2011. And the Tigers are perfect against every crew other than Yale, their most eye-catching result being a 1.5-second win over Harvard, the first time they’ve beaten the Crimson in consecutive years since 1956-57.

    But as opposing crews have learned all too often, the road to the IRA Championship goes through Montlake Cut. The University of Washington is, quite simply, collegiate rowing’s 21st-century dynasty, having won the last five IRA titles, the event’s longest streak of dominance since Cornell’s run of six straight crowns back in the, ahem, 19th century. The Huskies have also won nine straight Ten Eyck trophies as the top overall team at IRAs.

    While their streak of consecutive Pac-12 titles was finally snapped at six, it was not without a fight. The Huskies trailed by a length deep into the race, but closed the margin to just five seats at the finish line. Earlier in the spring, they slipped past Brown by one second, scored an open-water win over Oregon State, and won the famed Windermere Cup for the 22nd time (topping Stanford and the Russian National Team).

    Brown always works its way into the conversation here and must be considered at least an outside threat to take the title. The Bears flashed late speed to grab the bronze medal at Sprints, overtaking Cornell and Harvard in the final strokes and coming within the shadows of victorious Yale.

    “It was a big moment for us and culmination of a lot of experience found over the course of the season. We had a lot of tough races and losses, but then figured out how to make things better,” said Brown head coach Paul Cooke.

    Harvard is another persistent presence. The Crimson was the main challenger to Yale early on in the Sprints Grand Final, and has shown plenty of grit this spring. Their final four dual races – vs. Brown, Princeton Penn, and Northeastern – were decided by a total of 4.2 seconds, with Harvard coming out on top in three of those contests.

    Cornell enjoyed a banner day at Sprints, advancing four of its five boats into the Grands, including the varsity, which beat its No. 6 seed by placing fifth. Boston University, meanwhile, reached the Sprints Grand Final for the fourth straight season and is looking to crack the top race here for the second time in three years.

    Northeastern qualified for the IRA Grands last spring and believes it’s found the formula for similar success after taking the Petites title at Sprints. Columbia, Penn, Syracuse, Dartmouth, and Wisconsin – the last Eastern crew to win the IRAs (2008) – placed behind the Huskies in that Petites final. Other IRA qualifiers who raced at Sprints are Navy, which won the Third-Level race, and George Washington. Across the country, Stanford took third and Oregon was fourth at the Pac-12s.

    While most fans are familiar with those schools, there’s always some curiosity regarding the lesser-known entrants that fill out the 24-crew field.

    Florida Institute of Technology, coached by 1996 Boston University grad Jim Granger, carries the momentum of winning its second straight Dad Vail Championship, beating runner-up Drexel by just under length. Temple placed third.

    Santa Clara qualified for IRAs with a wire-to-wire victory at the Western Sprints, and earlier this season claimed its first-ever WIRA championship, nipping Cal-Santa Barbara by a half-second. Oklahoma City, an NAIA school which started its crew program 12 years ago, won last year’s Western Sprints crown and was runner-up this spring. The Stars are making their second straight appearance at IRAs.

    Hobart, meanwhile, placed second to Michigan at the National Invitational Rowing Championship. And the Statesmen have all but retired the Liberty League crown, having now won it 11 straight years.

     

    —John Veneziano

  • 2016 IRA LIGHTWEIGHT WOMEN PREVIEW

    Jun 01, 2016

    Over the past few years, the battle for the national title in the Women's Lightweight Varsity Eight has been defined by the tilts between Radcliffe and Stanford; two years ago, Radcliffe captured the title with a stirring sprint over the last 250 meters of the race, while in 2015, Stanford did not disappoint expectations, recapturing the title with a brilliantly executed race.

    This year Stanford is the unquestionable top seed, having seen off all challenges from coast to coast.  The Cardinal captured the San Diego Crew Classic, the Knecht Cup, and the Boston Lightweight Invitational for a perfect record and the pole position.  Under second-year head coach Derek Byrnes, Stanford has continued to impress.

    The real intrigue in 2016 is taking place behind Stanford as Boston University, Wisconsin and Radcliffe will tussle for podium spots.  Boston University's rise to the top of east coast lightweight women's rowing is one of the great stories of this spring, with the Terriers capturing not only their first lightweight Beanpot (the trophy shared amongst the Boston lightweight teams, BU, Radcliffe and MIT), but also taking the program's first Eastern Sprints Varsity Lightweight Eight title against a packed field of contenders, and capping it by winning the Konrad Ulbrich overall points trophy for Lightweight Women at the Sprints, another program first. 

    "Sprints was a performance benchmark for us," said BU head coach Malcolm Doldron.  "We knew how we needed to train in the fall and winter and did what was necessary.  We knew that if we executed well the outcome would be inevitable."

    What makes BU's performance impressive is that its good racing results were not limited to the Varsity eight.  BU's lower boats have also performed strongly, creating the type of environment necessary for the entire team to perform at a top level.  BU enters the 2016 IRA competition as the first pursuer of Stanford, and should serve as a real challenger to the Cardinal.

    "While we know we have incredibly tough racing ahead with Stanford, Wisconsin, and Radcliffe, we also know that these kinds of challenges is what makes racing fun!" said BU's Doldron.  "High performance racing requires opposition at their best so that we can achieve our best. Our focus all year has been positioning ourselves to race our best at the IRA."

    Also in the conversation are the Badgers of Wisconsin.  Under first-year head coach Dusty Madison, Wisconsin has continued its tradition of fielding strong lightweight women's crews.  While no team is looking past Stanford, the Wisco women will come into the IRA itching for a rematch with BU, as the Terriers outgunned the Madison crews by less than one point for the Eastern Sprints team trophy.  "Team depth" has been the mantra of Wisconsin's 2016 campaign, and while the Badger Varsity eight faltered somewhat in finishing third behind BU and Radcliffe, the Wisconsin lightweight second varsity and third varsity eights, as well as the Wisco lightweight varsity four, all captured gold medals at the Sprints.

    "We had a moment of disappointment after Sprints and then quickly moved on knowing that our mission from here on out is about increasing our top end speed," said Mattison. "To win three out of our four races was huge for the future of our program."

    Also certainly not out of the discussion for a podium finish and a challenge for the title under the right circumstances is Radcliffe.  The black and white, under new head coach Sarah Schwegman, have found themselves in the unaccustomed position of looking catch crews, but to Radcliffe's credit, they have not backed off at any point, keeping their margins to BU at just under one boat length at all points this season.  With a long layoff between Sprints and the IRA, Schwegman and her crew could find the speed necessary to crack BU and Stanford.

    All teams will be using this comparatively long layoff between the end of the regular season racing and the IRA to find their end-of-year speed.  "The longer layoff is nice since it gives us time to make an adjustment, look at it and then either stick with it or try something else," said Wisconsin's Mattison.  "As with most other teams we raced every weekend in April so there wasn't a ton of time to try new things. Now that school is done for the year they can relax a bit and really focus on gelling as a group."

    Rounding out the field in the Women's Lightweight Varsity Eight are MIT, who captured the Dad Vail championship in this event earlier this spring, Princeton and Georgetown.

    These teams will be joined by others in the two additional Women's Lightweight events at the IRA, the Women's Lightweight Four and Women's Lightweight Double Sculls.  In addition to the seven teams taking part in the Varsity eight, Fordham, UMass, Tulsa and Villanova complete the field in the Women's Lightweight Four.

    Given the impressive depth of the top teams, it would not be surprising to see Stanford, BU, Radcliffe or Wisconsin vying for the podium spots, but the smaller boat events always come with surprises. 

    Finally, nine teams will contest the Women's Lightweight Double sculls: BU, Princeton, Radcliffe, Wisconsin, Stanford, Tulsa, Dartmouth, Loyola University (Maryland), and Oklahoma City University.  With the Double Sculls serving as the only Olympic event for lightweight women, it's encouraging to see teams allow athletes to experience championship-level sculling as undergraduates, which is generally an exception.  The intriguing entries come from Dartmouth, who does not field a lightweight women's team during the regular season, and Oklahoma City University.

  • IRA Lightweight Men’s Eight Preview, 2016

    May 31, 2016

    Yale
    Like their counterparts on the heavyweight side, undefeated Sprints champion Yale will be the team to watch in the men’s lightweight eight this year at the IRA Regatta. Y150 doesn’t have to look too far back to recall their most recent IRA title (coming in thrilling fashion in 2011 by roughly one foot over a previously undefeated Harvard crew), and can take confidence from their success this spring, which has seen them run the table to date. From the look of it, they’re well positioned to continue their momentum, coming off their first EARC Sprints title since 2002 (and taking first in the second varsity eight, to boot). However, just as Yale themselves proved in 2011, you can never take the IRA title for granted—something veteran head coach Andy Card has likely impressed upon his crew since taking top honors at Sprints. 

    Columbia
    The Columbia Lions have been steadily climbing the ranks of the Sprints league for some time now, beginning with Scott Alwin’s tenure as head coach, and continuing that trend under current skipper Nich Lee Parker. While you can pretty much pencil the Lions into a podium finish at both Sprints and IRAs (they’re coming off another silver-medal performance in Worcester, back of Yale, this year), so far they haven’t quite been able to get to the top of the mountain, scoring silver and bronze at IRAs over the last two seasons. They’re not far off, though, having crossed the line roughly seven seats back of Yale at Sprints—could this be the year that Columbia takes home a first-ever national title? 

    Princeton
    The Tigers, like Columbia, have had strong crews for the past several years. This season, Marty Crotty’s Tigers have been very close to the mark, again starting the year strong with a solid second place at the Head Of The Charles (back of a Canadian crew made up of national team athletes), and recently third in the varsity eight at Sprints. It will be a tall task for the Tigers to get past the top two crews, Yale and Columbia, but with a typically talented and deep program (finishing with a bronze in the second varsity eight at Sprints as well), Princeton may just have the speed to make it happen.

    Cornell
    While Big Red came into the season with hopes of completing a three-peat of titles at both Eastern Sprints and IRAs, Cornell struggled against the top end of the field in 2016 during the regular season. 2015 Ivy League Lightweight Coach of the Year Chris Kerber’s crew has not been far off the pace (and have shown solid depth, taking a very close second to Yale in the second varsity eight in Worcester), but Cornell suffered three straight losses in the varsity eight for the first time in recent memory this year, coming against the top crews in the league. Still, with Cornell having missed the podium by just three tenths of a second at Sprints, don’t sleep on Big Red in West Windsor.

    Penn
    The Quakers have had a strong year for the program, moving up the ranks and proving that they deserved their no. 5 seed at Eastern Sprints, building on the promise of their Sprints-champion freshman eight two years ago. The fall season saw Penn post impressive results at the Princeton Chase, edging Harvard and taking fifth place overall behind Cornell, Princeton, Yale, and Navy, respectively. While the Quakers haven’t yet cracked the podium, they were roughly one length from a bronze medal in Worcester after a tight race with Princeton and Cornell—look for them to continue to make an impression on the field at IRAs this year. 

    Navy
    The Midshipmen have had very strong spring, with a signature victory over Harvard for the Haines Trophy—the first for Navy since 2008, and just the ninth for the program since 1936—and an appearance in the final at Eastern Sprints, taking sixth place. With growing confidence and experience to draw on, head coach Shawn Bagnall (in his third season with the Midshipmen) and his crew will no doubt be aiming to track down Penn to crack the top five in the country at IRAs—a worthy goal for a squad that finished the 2015 season at eighth overall. 

    Harvard
    It has been an up and down season for the Crimson so far in the 2015-2016 campaign, with the varsity eight taking a solid third place finish at the Charles behind the Canadian national team and Princeton, but with mixed results in the spring. The Crimson raced very well with Cornell and Princeton, but they’ve lacked the top-end speed we’ve come to expect from the storied program since they won back-to-back national championships in 2012 and 2013. Still, Michiel Bartman’s crews have performed well when it has mattered most over the past two years, and bounced back from a fifth-place finish at Sprints to take an IRA bronze medal last season—they’ll be battling to make the final this year and put themselves in a position for an upset over their Sprints league rivals in West Windsor.

    Mercyhurst
    The Lakers earned their way into the fray at IRAs to take on the top teams from the Sprints league with a win at Dad Vails in Philadelphia, where they edged a strong Delaware crew by roughly two seconds to punch their tickets to Mercer Lake. Mercyhurst comes into the IRA Regatta having recently been ranked ninth overall, and has experience racing Sprints schools this season. The Lakers took two of three races from Dartmouth in their dual with Big Green, and earned a silver medal in the varsity eight at the MACRA Championships racing against heavyweight crews, knocking off strong club programs from Grand Valley State and Cincinnati along the way. The IRA field will be an excellent proving ground for the Lakers, as Mercyhurst and head coach Adrian Spracklen—son of legendary Olympic rowing coach Mike Spracklen—look to continue to elevate their program to new heights.  

  • EARC ANNOUNCES POSTSEASON ACCOLADES

    May 30, 2016

    WORCESTER, Mass. – The Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges (EARC) have announced their selections for Coach and Crew of the Year along with the recipient of the Rusty Callow Award.

    Yale University swept the awards in the heavyweight and lightweight categories as Steve Gladstone and Andy Card were named Heavyweight and Lightweight Coach of the Year while both Yale Varsity Eight Boats were selected as Heavyweight and Lightweight Crew of the Year. Cornell University’s Heavyweight Varsity Eight Boat was recognized as the 2016 Rusty Callow Award recipient.

    Yale’s Craig W. Johnson ’68 Head Coach, Steve Gladstone, was selected as the 2016 Heavyweight Coach of the Year by his peers. Gladstone continues to leave his mark on a Yale program that he took over in 2010. Gladstone has guided the Bulldogs back to national prominence in his six sprint seasons with the program, as the heavyweight crew is currently ranked first in the country. Gladstone and the Bulldogs will aim to put a cherry on top of a successful season at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) National Championships next weekend in West Windsor, NJ..

    It’s been an impressive year for Yale’s Varsity Heavyweight Eight. In addition to being named the EARC Heavyweight Crew of the Year they’ve taken gold at some of the nation’s most prominent races this season. The Ellis captured the school’s first heavyweight championship at the Head of the Charles, they also claimed the program’s first-ever gold at the San Diego Crew Classic and secured their second-straight top finish at the EARC Men’s Sprints. The No. 1 ranked Bulldogs now have their sights set on a strong showing at the IRA National Championships next weekend.

    Y150 Alumni Head Coach of Lightweight Crew Andy Card was selected by his peers as EARC Lightweight Coach of the Year. Card led the Bulldogs to an undefeated regular season and snapped a 14-year EARC title drought as the Varsity Lightweight Eight captured gold at Men’s Sprints for the first time since 2002. 

    The Bulldogs’ Varsity Lightweight Eight was also recognized as Lightweight Crew of the Year by the lightweight coaches of the EARC. The Ellis cruised to an undefeated regular season and secured a long-awaited first-place finish at Men’s Sprints. They’ve held as the top-ranked lightweight program in the country since April 21. Next up is the battle for the 1922 Trophy at the IRA National Championships on Lake Mercer next weekend. 

    Cornell University’s Varsity Heavyweight Eight took home the prestigious Rusty Callow Award. The head coaches of the EARC selected the Big Red for this honor after a strong regular season showing. Cornell’s best result of the spring season came as they claimed the Madeira Cup by defeating University of Pennsylvania and Dartmouth College. The crew also posted victories of George Washington University and claimed fifth place at the Men’s Sprints.

    The Rusty Callow Award is presented each year by the EARC to the crew that, in the previous year, best personified the virtues of “spirit, courage and unity.” Awarded annually since 1963, the winner of the award is determined by a vote of the head coaches of the EARC. Rusty Callow was a legendary rowing coach, whose career spanned the first half of the 20th century. Rusty coached for many years at Washington, the University of Pennsylvania, and Navy. Among his many accomplishments, Callow coached the 1952 Navy crew to an Olympic gold medal.

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