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Near Misses for No. 16 Radcliffe Heavyweights in Charles River Challenge

The Radcliffe varsity four A leaves the starting line on the way to a runner-up finish among four boats.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—The No. 16 Radcliffe heavyweight crew placed second in all five races in messy conditions on the first day of the Charles River Challenge Saturday morning on the windy Charles River Basin.

The Black and White varsity eight twice rallied from fourth place following over-the-head, boat-stopping crabs to defeat Minnesota and Syracuse, while Dartmouth won the race and the accompanying O'Leary Cup. The second varsity had a comeback of its own come up just short, as the Golden Gophers won that event by a half-second. All the races were plagued by an strong tailwind and rolling waves.

"It was a tough day out there as the conditions made racing really challenging," said head coach Liz O'Leary. "The thing that impressed me was the way our team fought. They're a tough bunch and wouldn't stop fighting until the bitter end. They really showed a lot of character."

In the final race of the morning, the Radcliffe varsity (3-4) got off to a strong start and was leading second-place Dartmouth (4-1) by six seats and third-place Minnesota (1-6) by a boat length through 500 meters before being halted by the first crab. The Black and White fell behind but responded well and had moved back into second place when it caught the second crab.

The second setback slowed Radcliffe for longer, but the Black and White came back to finish in 6:45.3, 5.9 seconds ahead of the Gophers and 8.6 ahead of the Orange. The Big Green won in 6:37.7 to take the O'Leary Cup for the third time. Harvard has won it seven times and Syracuse once.

In the second varsity, it was Minnesota breaking Radcliffe hearts. The Black and White trailed by six seats in the second 500 meters but surged under the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge and eventually caught up to the Gophers in front of the MIT Boathouse. Minnesota gained some breathing room in the final 500 meters and held off the Radcliffe sprint to cross the finish in 6:48.2 to Radcliffe's 6:48.7. Dartmouth was 10.6 seconds behind the Black and White.

The varsity four A outraced Syracuse by 2.1 seconds and Minnesota by three seconds, finishing in 7:55.2. The Big Green completed the course 6.3 seconds ahead of the field. Boston University and Louisville joined Radcliffe and Syracuse for the varsity four B. The Terriers won in 7:53. The Black and White's time of 8:06.4 was more than 20 seconds better than the Orange's time and more than 56 seconds faster than the Cardinals' mark.

Radcliffe's third varsity eight led after 750 meters, but Boston University moved past and went on to win by 9.7 seconds. The Black and White finished in 7:23.4.

Based on the results of the varsity races, Radcliffe will race Sunday against No. 10 Ohio State, Dartmouth and Northeastern. 

Varsity Eight
Dartmouth 6:37.7
Radcliffe 6:45.3*
Minnesota 6:51.2
Syracuse 6:54.7
*Radcliffe caught two over-the-head, boat-stoppingcrabs 

Second Varsity Eight
Minnesota 6:48.2
Radcliffe 6:48.7
Dartmouth 6:59.3
Syracuse 7:05.7

Varsity Four A
Dartmouth 7:48.9
Radcliffe 7:55.2
Syracuse 7:57.3
Minnesota 7:58.2

Varsity Four B
Boston University 7:53.9
Radcliffe 8:06.4
Syracuse 8:27.1
Louisville 9:02.6

Third Varsity Eight
Dartmouth 7:13.7
Radcliffe 7:23.4