Lightweight Crew Earns Two Silver Medals at IRA National Championships

Photo courtesy of Zack Williamson
Photo courtesy of Zack Williamson

The Crimson V8 and V4 take silver in the sport's marquee event.

WEST WINDSOR, N.J. – Heading into the weekend ranked fifth in the country, the Harvard men's lightweight crew varsity eight earned a silver medal in an incredibly close race at the 2014 IRA National Championships Sunday afternoon on Mercer Lake. The Crimson varsity four also took silver medals back to Cambridge.

This marks the fourth-straight year that the Crimson has ranked in the top-two at the IRA Championships.

The top three V8 boats were separated by just over two seconds, as the difference between gold and silver was 0.542 of a second. Cornell won the championship with a time of 5:47.921. Harvard finished just behind in 5:48.463. Columbia earned bronze (5:49.962).

Over the first 250 meters, the Crimson hung back in fifth as Yale, Columbia, Cornell and Princeton led the pack. By 800 meters, Harvard had moved ahead of Princeton and started to gain on the top three. At the midway mark, the Crimson attacked the gap and moved into third. Cornell had a length lead by 1250m before the Crimson made its move to sit in second heading into the stretch.

With a seven-seat deficit and 500m to row, the Crimson utilized a strong sprint to slowly chip away at the Cornell lead, but could not overtake the Big Red. An incredible feat, the underdog Crimson put forth a courageous effort to head back to Crimson with a silver medal. 

Harvard got to the grand final with a third-place showing in its heat (5:51.089).

Over the first 500 meters of the V4 grand final, the H150 four stood in fourth before a strong move over the next 250 vaulted the boat into the top three, battling with Columbia and Wisconsin.

The Crimson and Badgers went stroke-for-stroke, less than a length behind the Lions before Wisconsin seemed to gain an advantage down the stretch. An incredible push over the final 100 meters gave the H150 four a silver medal with a time of 6:30.323. A photo finish, the Crimson crossed just 0.051 ahead of the Badgers.   

The Crimson fours earned a berth in the grand final after a win in its morning heat, stopping the clock at 6:35.829 to best Cornell (6:38.559) and Princeton (6:40.637).

First Varsity
Bow: Jack Kelly; 2: Alexander Bonorris; 3: Matthew Podlesak; 4: Emanuel Ritschard; 5: Andrew Campbell; 6: Thomas Marshall; 7: Alexander Newell; Stroke: Nico Astrup-Wiik; Coxswain: Shane Bouchard

Varsity Four
1: Chris Wales; 2: Ian Klein; 3: Christopher Magnani; 4: Samuel Frum; Coxswain: James Dreben