WORCESTER, Mass. -- Columbia varsity heavyweight boats recorded first places in two different races at Sunday's Eastern (EARC) Sprints, but neither could assuage the disappointment felt by head coach Mike Zimmer and his rowers at the conclusion of the day's events.
"This was a tough day for the heavyweights," Zimmer said.
The varsity heavyweight eight took the day hardest. Knowing that they had to finish no worse than ninth to assure themselves of a bid to the IRA National Championship Regatta in two weeks, the Lions did not qualify for the Petite Finals, rowing's "consolation round", and were relegated to the Third Level Finals.
Columbia's poor racing that had manifested itself in April, continued into May. Challenged by a strong field in its opening heat, Columbia could do little with the front-runners, Brown (which would go on to win the Sprints), Syracuse or Cornell. So the Lions set their sights on Penn and Rutgers; they would have to finish ahead of both in order to reach the Petite Final.
Rutgers was overtaken, but as hard as the Lions tried, they were unable to unseat the Quakers from fourth place. Penn earned the spot with a time of 6:05.124, 4.7 seconds better than Columbia's 6:09.843. "Penn did a nice job," Zimmer said.
In the Third Level Final, the coach noted, "We tried to do better, to move forward."
The Lions did just that, beating their morning time by five seconds despite a bothersome wind raking Lake Quinsigamond. They were aggressive early in the race, taking a good-sized lead, only to encounter strong pressure down the stretch from Georgetown and George Washington. But Columbia held the Hoyas and Colonials off, beating Georgetown by .63 seconds, and GW by 1.6 seconds.
The freshman heavies rowed a solid opening heat. The Lions put pressure on Princeton, just six seconds better than Columbia in making the Grand Final; Boston U., which topped the Lions by only 3.2 seconds; and Penn.
Columbia had to finish ahead of the Quakers in order to avoid the Third Level Final. It wasn't easy, but the men from Morningside made it, by 0.56 seconds. The effort took a lot out of the Lions, though, as they placed sixth of six in the Petite Finals.
Columbia did gain one first place, in the Open Fours. The Lion second varsity was timed in 6:43.858 to beat the Syracuse lightweight four, the Dartmouth and Penn third varsity fours, and two other lightweight fours.
The Lions must now hope for an at-large bid to the IRA Regatta, which takes place May 31-June 2 in Pennsauken, N.J.
Today's results:
Eastern Sprints (EARC) - heavyweights
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Lake Quinsigamond, Worcester, Mass,

Varsity Eights - Third-Level Final

1. COLUMBIA, 6:04.366
2. Georgetown, 6:04.996
3. George Washington, 6:05.909
4. Holy Cross, 6:17.953
5. Rutgers, 6:23.710
6. MIT, 6:38.111
(5th of 6 in Heat)

Freshman Eights - Petite Final

1. Boston U., 6:12.861
2. Wisconsin, 6:13.245
3. Dartmouth, 6:17.299
4. Yale, 6:18.463
5. Syracuse, 6:21.862
6. COLUMBIA, 6:26.495
(4th of 6 in Heat)

Open Fours - Grand Final
1. COLUMBIA, 6:43.858
2. Syracuse LWT, 6:52.870
3. Dartmouth, 6:56.632
4. Penn, 7:06.848
5. Penn LWT, 7:15.570
6. Georgetown LWT, 7:17.659

Today's Boatings:

Varsity Eight
Janelle Geddes, cox; Mike Donohue, stroke; Sam Collins, 7; Clemens Auersperg, 6;  Ben Coombs, 5; Ian Winthrop, 4; John Clapp, 3; Connor Jones, 2; Charles Wu, bow

Freshman Eight
Alex Xu, cox; Sam Harris, stroke; Matt Ridgeway, 7; Buck Goggin, 6; James Glynn, 5; D.J. Dlesk, 4; Rob Cornacchia, 3; Connor Murphy, 2; Max Lindemann, bow

Varsity Four
Andrew Lake, cox; Noah Whitehead, stroke; Daniel Kolbe, 3; Ryan Jones, 2; Elliot Meade, bow