Black, White and Bronze: Radcliffe Lightweights Return to IRA Medal Dock

Radcliffe earned its ninth IRA varsity medal and placed in the top four for the 14th time in 16th IRA appearances.
Radcliffe earned its ninth IRA varsity medal and placed in the top four for the 14th time in 16th IRA appearances.

Day 1 Recap | Day 1 Photos

—The Radcliffe lightweight varsity eight captured its first national medal since 2006 by taking bronze with its third-place finish in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships Saturday on the Cooper River.

The Black and White entered the regatta ranked fourth, the same spot in which it had finished in each of the previous three and four of the previous five IRA regattas. This time around, however, Radcliffe beat out top-ranked Wisconsin, winner of five of the last eight IRA titles, for the bronze. Stanford won the national title, while Bucknell placed second. Radcliffe placed fourth in the varsity four grand final.

"Our goal was, in the beginning of the year, to get on the medal stand here at the IRAs with the varsity eight," said head coach Michiel Bartman. "Just doing that is an amazing feeling. The girls worked so hard."

With fast conditions aided by a fierce tailwind, the crews all got off to a fast start. The top four boats broke away from Georgetown and Princeton early. Radcliffe trailed Wisconsin through 1,000 meters but drew even with the Badgers and trailed Stanford by a length with 500 meters left. The Black and White moved through Wisconsin and gained on Bucknell in the final quarter of the race.

"It was almost surreal," coxswain Maryana Vrubel said following her final collegiate race. "It was the best race I've ever been in in my entire life. It felt right, though. The whole time, I kept repeating, 'This is where we belong—top three.' All these previous years we've been 'the best of the rest,' coming in fourth, coming in fourth, coming in fourth. And now we can safely say that we're in the top of the pack."

Radcliffe's time of 6:35.479 was more than a second faster than that of Wisconsin and 1.8 seconds off the pace of the runner-up Bison. Stanford won in 6:31.141. The Black and White had finished 11.5 seconds behind the Badgers in an invitational regatta on the Charles and 5.4 seconds back when Wisconsin won the Eastern title at Sprints.

"We charged the whole way down the course and left nothing behind us," said Vrubel.

"They just did it," Bartman added. "That's the great part, that they performed at the moment that they had to."

The varsity four also finished its season with a strong performance. Radcliffe finished in 7:34.689, more than 12 seconds ahead of rival Princeton and a half-minute faster than Georgetown. Wisconsin took varsity four gold in 7:14.633, followed by Stanford and Buffalo.

Varsity Eight
Grand Final
Stanford 6:31.141
Bucknell 6:33.736
Radcliffe 6:35.479
Wisconsin 6:36.636
Princeton 6:47.108
Georgetown 6:50.789

Varsity Four
Grand Final
Wisconsin 7:14.633
Stanford 7:19.463
Buffalo 7:25.444
Radcliffe 7:34.689
Princeton 7:47.025
Georgetown 8:06.418