Women's Lightweight Four Wins IRA National Championship
Lions take title for third time; Men's Pair in Saturday's Petite Final
June 6, 2008
Camden, NJ - It had been 19 years since LMU women's rowers stood atop the podium at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championship Regatta but the drought came to an end Friday as the women's lightweight four claimed its third national title with a convincing victory on Cooper River in Camden, NJ. The Lion boat of seniors Jill Austin, Jen Glassman, and Jennifer Guess (cox), along with freshmen Liz LaLonde and Mary Foster, brought home the gold 12 seconds ahead of defending champion Princeton.
LMU had won gold in the same event in both 1981 and 1989 before women's lightweight four was dropped from the schedule. Princeton took first in 2007 when the event was reinstated and was looking for back-to-back championships this year. LMU had other ideas, however. The quad held even with Princeton in the early going before pulling ahead around the midway mark. LMU increased its lead throughout the second half of the race to cross the line in 7:15.514, nearly a minute faster than the crew's previous season best. Princeton came in second in 7:27.660 with Fordham third in 7:33.960.
"These five girls couldn't possibly have turned out a better performance today," Women's Coach Sara-Mai Conway said. "It's been a great group to coach, and they've been working really hard. For the three seniors in the boat, it's the best way to end their four years at LMU. All three are four-year rowers and have consistently developed and improved their performance over their time at LMU. For the two freshmen, winning at IRA's is a great start to their collegiate rowing careers."
"The three seniors all come from Southern California, and with the growth of the program over the years, the freshmen in the bow pair illustrate how we've now been able to recruit top rowers from the east coast as well," Coordinator of Rowing Patrick Kelly said. "We really want to celebrate this victory, but at the same time it's exciting to look forward to what the younger members of the team can do alongside next year's incoming class."
Earlier in the day, LMU's hopes for an IRA National Championship in men's pair crew were dashed as seniors David Cronin and Scott Wike placed second in their repechage heat to barely miss out on a place in Saturday's Grand Final. Instead, the duo will advance to the Petite Final, which will be held at 9:26 a.m. on Saturday.
After placing second in Thursday's qualifying heat, Cronin and Wike entered Friday's race needing to win the four-boat repechage to have a shot at the Grand Final. Things got off to a roaring start as the LMU boat surged forward at the beginning of the race, pulling even with Lehigh for first, just ahead of Yale. Suddenly, Yale's boat inadvertently veered into Lehigh as a result of a steering malfunction, causing the race to be restarted. A 45-minute delay ensued as Yale addressed its mechanical issues.
When the race restarted, Lehigh again pulled into the lead with LMU in second. The Lions tried to increase their stroke rate, making at late charge with 750m to go but it was not enough as Lehigh held on for the victory in 7:24.4 to advance to the Grand Final. LMU finished in 7:30.6, shaving eight seconds off its time from Thursday's heat. George Washington placed third in 7:40.5 to also advance to the Petite Final while Yale moves on to the 3rd Final after a time of 8:06.3.
"I was happy with most of the changes that we were able to make after our initial heat on Thursday," Men's Varsity Coach Brooks Jones said. "The guys found about eight more seconds of boat speed which is promising and I still think that there is room for improvement before our final tomorrow. To be racing for a spot among the top 12 crews in the nation is very exciting."
LMU's time was the fifth-fastest of the three repechage heats and second-fastest among the boats that will race in the Petite Final. Places 7-12 will be decided Saturday morning as LMU faces George Washington, Brown, Georgetown, Loyola College (Md.), and the U.S. Naval Academy.
Women's Lightweight Four Results:
Men's Pair Results:
Petite Final Saturday Lineup:
For complete IRA results, click here.