WEST WINDSOR, N.J. – The Stanford lightweight rowing team began its weekend at the IRA National Championships, winning both races to set up a chance for a fifth consecutive national championship on Sunday.
The varsity eight, winners of the last four IRA national titles, entered the weekend with a target on their back and came through the first day unscathed as they won the second heat by just under three seconds over No. 6 Bucknell. No. 3 Wisconsin was over 13 seconds back of the lead and No. 7 MIT finished fourth.
“We had some nerves in the beginning and they handled it well,” said head coach Al Acosta. “It took us a little bit to find an effective rhythm, but we did in the final 1,000 meters and controlled the race.”
The Cardinal posted a time of 6:45.764 to send them into the Grand Final on Sunday. They will race for the national championship against Wisconsin, Bucknell, No. 1 Harvard-Radcliffe, No. 4 Princeton and No. 5 Boston University. The race is scheduled for 11:50 a.m.
"Our heat went really well today," said junior Bailey Yuro. "During the season we don't race these teams much so it was good to get that during the heat today. Tomorrow is going to be a tight race to the podium, but we know exactly what we need to do and I have so much confidence in these girls."
The varsity four competed for the first time this season two weeks ago. The one race tuneup was enough for the Stanford four as they edged out No. 11 Fordham in a tight race. The Cardinal finished 0.42 seconds in front to advance to the Grand Final.
"Over the last week we have really made a lot of improvements as a boat while training in New Jersey," said senior Molly Hayes. "Today was a great race for us and having the afternoon off was great so we could rest our legs."
MIT came in third in the race. Stanford trailed by a boat length in the first half of the race, but was able to come back on Fordham and win it at the end.
“The crosswind put us down by about a length, but credit to our girls for working hard to get back into it,” said Acosta. “They did a great job avoiding having to race a second time today.”
Stanford’s varsity four will race at 9 a.m. against Boston University, Harvard-Radcliffe, Wisconsin, Fordham and Princeton.
"Tomorrow it is my last race in college and I just want to walk away knowing we did everything we could do in that race, regardless the outcome," said Hayes.
IRA National Championships
West Windsor, N.J.
May 31, 2014
1. No. 2 Stanford – 6:45.764
2. No. 6 Bucknell – 6:48.332
3. No. 3 Wisconsin – 6:59.283
4. No. 7 MIT – 7:05.822
1. No. 2 Stanford – 7:47.336
2. No. 11 Fordham – 7:47.789
3. No. 7 MIT – 8:13.076