Radcliffe Lights Rally Directly to IRA Grand Final

Radcliffe Lights Rally Directly to IRA Grand Final

Photo courtesy Jaquie Labatt

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SACRAMENTO, Calif.-The Radcliffe lightweight varsity eight came from behind in the final 250 meters Friday morning to advance directly to the grand final at the 107th Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships on Lake Natoma.

The fifth-ranked Black and White surged past No. 4 Georgetown to finish second by three seats and move to Saturday's grand final. Radcliffe crossed the line in 6:55.70, a second ahead of the Hoyas. Top-ranked Wisconsin won in 6:49.93, and Tulsa was a distant fourth in 7:35.33.

Radcliffe will race in the grand final at 11 a.m. Pacific, 2 p.m. Eastern, against Wisconsin, Princeton, Stanford and two qualifiers from the Friday-afternoon repechage. The varsity eight consists of oarswomen Grace Hollowell, Rebekah Kharrazi, Lizzy Bates, Amanda Pfabe, Marissa Reichel, Natalie Wong, Wynne Evans and Laurel Gabard-Durnam and coxswain Jana Douglas.

"We just had somewhere to go in that last 250 meters," said head coach Heather Cartwright, whose crew moved into another gear for its final rally. "It will be great to not have to go to the rep, and it will be an interesting grand final. There will be five teams right there chasing Wisconsin."

At the start, Wisconsin, Georgetown and Radcliffe separated from Tulsa almost immediately. The Hoyas, racing in the lane between the Badgers and the Black and White were the first to take a slight lead. Wisconsin soon moved ahead and led by a half-second at the 500-meter mark, while Radcliffe was less than a second back of Georgetown.

The Hoyas added slightly to their lead over Radcliffe in the next 1,000 meters, hitting the 1,500-meter mark 1.8 seconds before the Black and White but rowing harder. Radcliffe picked up its rate from 34 strokes per minute to 36 at the start of the final 500. Georgetown clung to its lead with 250 to go, but the Black and White continued to build, reaching 38 strokes per minute, and got by the Hoyas in the final stretch.

Radcliffe's final 500-meter split was nearly two seconds faster than Wisconsin's and almost three faster than Georgetown's. The rally came against a Hoya squad that held off the Black and White for the bronze medal May 17 at Sprints. Radcliffe won the crews' earlier head-to-head matchup to capture the Class of 2004 Cup.

The performance assured Radcliffe, which finished sixth last season, of its 12th top-six finish in the 13 years since the IRA regatta began serving as the women's lightweight national championship in 1997. The Black and White will be seeking its ninth medal in that span

In Friday's second heat, No. 2 Stanford held a narrow lead throughout the race and won in 7:01.10. Sixth-ranked Bucknell rallied in the final 500 meters to pass No. 3 Princeton for the heat's second bid to the grand final.

Heat 1

Wisconsin 6:49.93

Radcliffe 6:55.70

Georgetown 6:56.77

Tulsa 7:35.33


Heat 2

Stanford 7:01.10

Bucknell 7:02.97

Princeton 7:03.15

MIT 7:31.16