IRA National Championship Begins Friday, June 2nd
By USRowing Staff • June 1, 2017
This weekend, crews from some of the top collegiate programs in the country will travel to Lake Natoma in Gold River, Calif. to compete for men’s heavyweight, men’s lightweight, and women’s lightweight Intercollegiate Rowing Association titles.
For all men’s events, heats and repechages will take place Friday, semifinals Saturday and finals Sunday. For lightweight women’s events, heats and repechages will take place Saturday and finals on Sunday.
The University of Washington recently overtook last year’s IRA Champion team, the University of California, in the polls, setting the stage for what will likely be a tight race for the top spot.
Both teams had good spring seasons, but Washington’s recent Pac-12 win shot them to the top of the polls.
Even with Washington’s current number one ranking, California’s spring season was successful enough to suggest a steep level of competition at IRAs; the Golden Bears swept San Diego Crew Classic, Stanford Invitational, and Big Row and claimed first in a duel against Washington in April.
Yale University also showed promise this season, winning their third straight Eastern Sprints championship, and also securing their fourth straight Carnegie Cup against Princeton University and Cornell University. The team remains third in the polls, hoping for a chance to claim the IRA title this weekend.
“There are two superb crews in Washington and California and a good one in Stanford,” said Steve Gladstone, Yale’s head coach and this year’s EARC Coach of the Year. “We are an underdog for sure, but we will race at full velocity.”
Cornell University sits at the top of the lightweight men’s polls going into IRAs this year, as they have performed consistently this season. After winning the varsity eight at Eastern Sprints and taking home their eleventh Ivy League championship in program history, the team is in a good position looking forward to IRAs.
Harvard University lightweights have made considerable strides this year and could pose a high level of competition for Cornell in Sacramento. Harvard’s successful spring season was highlighted by their performance at Eastern Sprints, at which they won four medals and the Jope cup. This result stands in stark contrast with that of last year when the team secured only a bronze medal in the fifth varsity eight.
Some say this year’s success could be attributed to first-year head coach Billy Boyce, but he accredits the good results to the hard work of his athletes.
“The squad has shown impressive resolve and dedication,” Boyce said. “We are very proud of the team’s progress this year.”
After winning IRAs for the past two years in a row, Stanford University lightweight women are still at the top of their game and the polls. Even after losing the previous coach Derek Byrnes, the team is thriving under 2016 Olympian Kate Bertko as their new head coach this year.
Harvard-Radcliffe is second in the polls coming off a strong season, winning the varsity eight at Eastern Sprints for the fourth time in five years. The Black and White also came in second at the Muri Cup/Beanpot and swept Princeton University for the Class of 1999 Cup. The University of Wisconsin ranked fourth, is not far off of Radcliffe, having won the team title at Eastern Sprints.
The toss-up is Boston University, now third in the polls. The Terriers performed well throughout most of their spring season, beating the Stanford lightweights in the varsity eight at Knecht Cup and winning the Beanpot for the second year in a row. At Eastern Sprints the team fell short, finishing fourth overall, but bounced back two weeks later to win the varsity lightweight eight at the Dad Vail Regatta.
Races are available to live stream on the USRowing Youtube page.
IRA Hype Playlist Courtesy of the Harvard Lightweight Rowing Team
Written by Elise Gorberg, firstname.lastname@example.org