Huskies, Golden Bears set for IRA national title showdown

The top three boats from each of Saturday’s two semifinal races qualify for the grand final of the IRA National Championships Sunday. Three Pac-12 crews competed in the varsity eight semifinal, but only Washington and Cal, the first- and second-place finishers, will be racing for a national championship, as Stanford lagged behind in fourth place. Both Washington and Cal saw each of their five boats advance on Saturday at Lake Natoma in Gold River, Calif.


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The Huskies keep making it look easy. The back-to-back champs took first place in all five of Saturday’s heats to advance to the grand finals, putting Washington’s weekend tally at a cool 10-0.

The biggest margin of victory came from the Huskies’ open four crew (6:28.5), which beat out Brown by more than seven seconds. The closest call came in the varsity eight race. Washington’s 5:40.74 time was less than two seconds ahead of Cal’s second-place boat. With the first-place finish, the No. 1 Huskies remain the prohibitive favorite, as the winner of the varsity eight grand final on Sunday determines the IRA team national champion. Washington’s three other crews — varsity four, freshmen eight and second varsity eight — all outlasted Ivy League boats by around two seconds to complete the sweep.

[Related: Washington men, Cal women defend Pac-12 rowing titles]


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The No. 3 Bears did not sweep, but all five of their boats finished in the top three to advance to Sunday’s grand finals.

Like Friday, three Cal crews took first place, though only the open four boat won both days. That boat bested Northeastern by less than a second, 6:32.62 compared to 6:33.47, in Saturday’s semifinal race. Cal’s second varsity crew’s race was equally close, beating out Boston University by just over a second, while the Bears’ varsity four boat (6:25.62) also finished first ahead of BU (6:27.58). The Cal varsity eight boat shook off a slow start to finish with a time of 5:42.32 in second place, right behind Washington. “Now they have to find a way to take it to a new level tomorrow,” said Cal head coach Mike Teti. The Huskies also beat out the Bears in the freshman eight race, as Cal (5:56.57) finished five and a half seconds behind in third place.

 


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Only one of the Cardinal’s two boats made it to Saturday’s semifinals, but it won’t be racing in Sunday’s grand final. The Stanford varsity eight crew finished in fourth place in the semifinals with a time of 5:48.20, four seconds behind third-place Princeton and well behind Washington and Cal. That Cardinal crew will still be racing Sunday, only in the petite final. Meanwhile, Stanford’s second varsity eight boat, which lost in its preliminary heat and ensuing repackage on Friday, returns to the waters Sunday in the third-level final for places 13-16.

[Related: Complete IRA championships results]


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Only one of the Beavers’ boats qualified for the semifinals, but with a third-place finish Saturday, that open four crew will be racing in Sunday’s grand final. The boat’s 6:42.91 time, nearly 10 seconds behind second-place Northeastern, was just fast enough to finish ahead of Syracuse (6:44.261) and earn a trip to the grand final. Oregon State’s boat hovered in the back half of the pack for much of the race before putting up the fastest split time in the final leg to lock up third place.

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