Stanford lightweights repeat as IRA national champions


Stanford lightweight rowing won its second straight Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Championship Sunday morning on Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J.

The Cardinal lightweight eight completed its second straight undefeated season, by capturing its Grand Final. The lightweight four and the lightweight double placed third in each of their respective Grand Finals as all three boats medaled.

Stanford totaled 34 team points (only eight and four included in IRA scoring) to win the IRA team title by four points of Boston and Wisconsin.

"It's exciting for the student-athletes," head lightweight rowing coach Derek Byrnes said. "Our goal is to win as a team and we did that. It was a great team effort. They are all hardworking people. It is even more meaningful because we are right in the middle of final exams. They are racing, taking exams and studying and racing and studying some more. It's the Stanford student-athlete and it is very impressive.

The Stanford lightweight eight pushed its bow ahead of the field early in Sunday's Grand Final and never looked back, en route to the IRA Title. The Cardinal opened a length advantage on the field at the 750-meter mark. Stanford (6:40.480) crossed the finish line seven seats ahead of Boston (6:43.420) to secure the national championship – its sixth lightweight eight IRA title in the last seven years.

The lightweight four jockeyed for position with Wisconsin and Massachusetts early on in its Grand Final. Wisconsin took the lead and Massachusetts moved into second as the boats approached 750 meters. The Cardinal was a length back of Massachusetts at 1,000 meters. Stanford finished third to capture the Bronze Medal with a time of 7:44.380. Wisconsin (7:38.650) won the Grand Final, while Massachusetts (7:42.660) took the Silver. It was the third-straight medal finish for the boat, which won the IRA title last year and took the Silver in 2014.

The Cardinal lightweight double also tried to navigate through the crowded field early on in its Grand Final, settling into third place at 750 meters. Stanford tried to take water away from second-place Wisconsin, but the Badgers held on to the advantage. The Cardinal took the Bronze with a time of 8:07.380. Boston (7:54.400) captured the Gold, and Wisconsin (7:55.290) took home the Silver.

"Our seniors, Brittany and Katherine are special," Byrnes added. "They each have their own way of leading and they are great role models for Stanford. "They work very hard and bring so much knowledge to our program. They want to do well and know how to lead this group. I am so happy for them for what they have achieved at Stanford."

Men's crew

Stanford captured the Clayton W. Chapman Trophy, recognizing the Most Improved Team, at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Championships Sunday morning on Mercer Lake in New Jersey.

Stanford placed second in Sunday's Petite Final to place eighth overall in the varsity eight. The varsity four placed second in the fourth level final. Stanford totaled 55 points as a team to place 16th in the team scoring.

"The Chapman Trophy reflects the hard work of our entire team and how they have supported and respected one another since day one of the academic year," Stanford coach Craig Amerkhanian said. "I am so proud of this team and everything they have accomplished."

In a tight Varsity Eight Petite Final, Stanford and Northeastern jockeyed for position early on.

The Cardinal pushed its bow in front, holding the lead for a good portion of the race. Northeastern pulled level with Stanford as the boats entered the final 500 meters.

Stanford and Northeastern battled all the way to the finish with Northeastern (5:51.020) crossing the line first by a couple seats over the Cardinal (5:52.130).

"I am very proud of this crew," Amerkhanian said. "They had final exams this week and were studying and taking exams when they weren't on the water. A 4 a.m. Pacific Time start to today's race wasn't easy either, but they battled through it all and had a great weekend."

The varsity four battled Dartmouth down the course, taking a lead midway through the race in Sunday's fourth level final. It came down to the finish, where Dartmouth (6:55.660) edged the Cardinal (6:56.360) by a deck length at the line to win the race.

"The four showed a lot of promise at the IRA's," Amerkhanian said. "Anyone in the four could row in our eight. The two boats trained together all week here in New Jersey and supported each other throughout the regatta. Our entire team contributed to the Chapman Trophy."

— Stanford Athletics

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