WEST WINDSOR, N.J. – The Columbia lightweight rowing varsity eight earned its second IRA National Championship in program history, all coming in three years, after topping five other crews in the grand finals on Mercer Lake Sunday morning.
The varsity four finals were canceled by the IRA due to wind
The boats all faced heavy headwinds, but with the water smoothing out in the second half of the course, the teams' varsity eight crews were able to get their early morning heats in.
It is just the fourth varsity eight national championship since 1928 for any of the three Columbia crews. The Lions have now medaled in five of the last IRA regattas. In addition, senior Ben Landis and junior Jenson Carlgren are the first-ever Lion lightweights to earn two gold medals at IRA's after sitting in the varsity eight in 2016.
The Lions, just like the preliminaries, took the lead early and pulled out three seats in front of Princeton in the first portion of the race. The margin remained that way for the majority of the first 1,000 meters and Harvard pulled within bow-to-stern of the Lions to make it a three-crew competition. Columbia gained about six seats of separation from the Tigers and remained a length in front of the Crimson a little after the midway point.
With Harvard falling behind, it was down to the Lions and Princeton, who made a charge in the final quarter and closed within approximately three seats with 250 to go. However, Columbia responded with one final push and crossed the finish line with a four-seat advantage to put the finishing touches of its remarkable campaign.
The Lions finished 2018 with just one loss and swept all of its regular season cup races for the first time since 2000 and the second varsity eight posted an undefeated record. The varsity eight featured just one senior and five underclassmen (three first-years, two sophomores).