A Familiar Beginning: Radcliffe Heavyweight Crew Wins Inaugural Ivy Regatta

The 2012 Ivy League champion Radcliffe varsity eight (photo courtesy the Ivy League)
The 2012 Ivy League champion Radcliffe varsity eight (photo courtesy the Ivy League)

Photo Gallery | Liz O'Leary Interview

CAMDEN, N.J.—Nearly four decades after winning the first Ivy League title event for women, the Radcliffe heavyweight varsity eight started the newest Ancient Eight event—the inaugural Ivy League Championship Sunday on the Cooper River—with another victory.

The Black and White varsity four A also won gold, giving Radcliffe wins in two of the three NCAA-level events. Radcliffe raced in all six of the day's grand finals and finished second to Princeton in the team competition that took into account the first, second and third varsity eight and varsity four A and B events.

The Ivy regatta was held for the first time, following 37 seasons of awarding the Ivy title to the top-finishing Ivy varsity at women's Eastern Sprints, starting with a Radcliffe victory in 1974. After claiming the Ivy crown for the first time since its national title season of 2003, Radcliffe now owns eight Ivy championships.

"It was breathtaking," said head coach Liz O'Leary, whose varsity entered as the No. 5 seed in a wide-open field. "There were six super-fast eights in the varsity final, and I knew it would take an extraordinary performance to win it."

Top-seeded Princeton took a narrow lead on a tightly packed field and led second-place Radcliffe by a half-second after 500 meters. The Tigers and Black and White moved away from the field in the next 500, building a cushion of nearly three seconds on third-place Cornell. Radcliffe remained less than a second back of Princeton at the race's midway point.

"We really put a lot of emphasis this weekend on our second 500 and on finding a base speed that was fast and sustainable," O'Leary said.

The Big Red never let go, and when Radcliffe gradually moved through Princeton in the second half of the race, Cornell followed. With 500 meters to go, the Black and White led the Tigers by nearly two seconds, with Cornell in a close third. The margin only grew as the finish approached, and Radcliffe won by 2.8 seconds in 6:17.744. The Big Red finished 1.5 seconds before the Tigers, who edged Yale for the bronze by about one-tenth of a second.

The members of Radcliffe's varsity eight earned first-team All-Ivy League honors. They are: coxswain Jill Carlson and rowers Michelle Pearson, Lucy Grinalds, Liz SoutterMimi Tanski, Courtney Diekema, Jenna Gregoire, Scout Moran and Mary Maginnis. It was the second Ivy title of the year for Gregoire, who is also a member of the women's swimming and diving team.

"They did a terrific job, and Jill made all the right calls to get everything they had out of them," O'Leary said. Of the Black and White's other big win, she added, "The four was brilliant."

The Cornell and Princeton A fours battled for 1,000 meters before Radcliffe edged ahead to lead by two-fifths of a second with 500 meters left. The Black and White went on to win by 1.5 seconds over Princeton in 7:07.079, with Yale overtaking the Big Red for third.

Over the final 1,500 meters of its final, the Radcliffe second varsity raced fiercely with Dartmouth and Yale for the final medal behind Princeton and Brown. The Black and White pulled away from the Big Green in the last quarter, but the Bulldogs got to the finish line four-fifths of a second faster than Radcliffe's time of Radcliffe 6:33.911.

The Radcliffe B four and third varsity eight also placed fourth. The B four remained in fourth for most of its race, finishing in 7:37.131. The third varsity came from behind to defeat Yale and dueled with Cornell down the course before finishing 1.3 seconds behind the Big Red in 6:54.096.

Varsity Eight
Heat 1
Radcliffe 6:19.283
Princeton 6:23.698
Cornell 6:27.816
Penn 6:31.501

Grand Final

Radcliffe 6:17.744
Cornell 6:20.534
Princeton 6:22.062
Yale 6:22.155
Brown 6:23.874
Dartmouth 6:26.675

Team Points
Princeton 76
Radcliffe 73
Yale 61
Cornell 60
Brown 52
Dartmouth 29
Penn 21
Columbia 18

Second Varsity Eight
Heat 2
Yale 6:30.282
Radcliffe 6:34.812
Cornell 6:39.154
Penn 6:47.801

Grand Final
Princeton 6:27.950
Brown 6:31.213
Yale 6:33.103
Radcliffe 6:33.911
Dartmouth 6:40.624
Cornell 6:44.536

Varsity Four A
Heat 1
Princeton 7:14.539
Brown 7:18.383
Radcliffe 7:24.363
Columbia 7:39.272

Grand Final
Radcliffe 7:07.079
Princeton 7:09.563
Yale 7:11.405
Cornell 7:13.739
Brown 7:18.095
Penn 7:50.690

Varsity Four B
Grand Final
Yale 7:15.354
Cornell 7:19.528
Princeton 7:23.348
Radcliffe 7:37.131
Penn 7:54.483
Dartmouth 8:14.232

Varsity Four C
Grand Final
Princeton 8:02.473
Radcliffe 8:16.656

Third Varsity Eight
Grand Final
Princeton 6:38.494
Brown 6:48.809
Cornell 6:52.811
Radcliffe 6:54.096
Cornell 6:55.086
Penn 6:57.577
Yale 6:58.409