WEST WINDSOR, N.J. -- The Columbia heavyweights concluded their 2014 season with two top-ten finishes at the IRA Men's Rowing National Championships on Mercer Lake Sunday.
    
The Lions finished fourth of six in the varsity heavyweight eights' Petite Final, good for 10th overall, and third of six in the Petite Final for freshman heavyweight eights, ninth overall. In addition, the second varsity heavyweight eight notched a second place in the Fourth Level Final.
    
"You talk all season about building for the championship races, and that is what we saw today," head coach Scott Alwin said. "The rowing today was definitely on the upswing."
    
That was evident in the performance of the varsity eight, which saved its best showing of the regatta for the final one. The Lions went up against a strong field in the Petite Final, and was never out of place among the competition. In finishing fourth, they rowed 5:46.515 to edge powerful Wisconsin by 2.9 seconds, and Navy by two more seconds, while just missing third place, which Boston University captured in 5:45.653.
    
In fact, the Lions weren't very far off the lead, as Northeastern rowed 5:41.463 to nip Cornell, at 5:43.291.
    
"It was great to send our seniors out on a strong performance," Alwin said. "From the start of the season, when they had to adjust to a new coaching staff and a new system, they worked hard in practice and worked hard for each other. They had confidence in what we were trying to do, and in continuing the momentum they built up. Today was great proof of that."
    
The freshman eight, composed of heavyweights and lightweights, demonstrated the value of hard work when they came out of nowhere to place third in the Petite Final, better than Penn and Drexel, trailing only George Washington, an established full-season crew, and Navy.
    
While praising the freshman team's effort, Alwin singled out assistant coach Emerson Curry for special praise.
    
"Emerson was really important this year," the head coach noted. "He has an eye for technique, and all of our crews benefited from him. That was particularly true of our freshman eight; he made a special effort to work with them, to make them competitive."
    
The second varsity eight also rowed well, its best of the regatta, in taking second in the Fourth Level Final. The Lions lost to GW, but beat four other schools, including Holy Cross, FIT, San Diego and Hobart. "They went out on a good note today," Alwin said.
    
But there was no better exit for the heavyweights than to post the two top-10 finishes.
    
"When you consider that only five of our seniors had ever rowed in an IRA before," Alwin said, "having two top finishes is fantastic. It's huge!"     

Today's results:

IRA National Men's Rowing Championship
Day Three, Sunday, June 1, 2014
Mercer Lake, West Windsor, N.J.

Note: only the events in which Columbia participated are listed

Varsity Eights - Petite Final
1. Northeastern, 5:41.463
2. Cornell, 5:43.291
3. Boston U., 5:45.653
4. COLUMBIA, 5:46.515
5. Wisconsin, 5:49.467
6. Navy, 5:51.168

Second Varsity Eights - Fourth Level Final
1. George Washington, 5:55.174
2. COLUMBIA, 5:58.305
3. Hobart, 6:01.780
4. San Diego, 6:04.295
5. FIT, 6:06.626
6. Holy Cross, 6:10.638

Freshman Eights - Petite Final
1. George Washington, 6:05.587
2. Navy, 6:11.264
3. COLUMBIA, 6:14.260
4. Drexel, 6:15.686
5. Penn, 6:20.412

Today's Columbia Boatings:

Varsity Eight
Colin Keane, cox; Emmett Gross, stroke; Connor Jones, 7; Buck Goggin, 6; Alex Barkume, 5; Clemens Auersperg, 4; Ben Coombs, 3; Josh Fram, 2; Matt Ridgeway, bow

Second Varsity Eight
Daniel Hong, cox; Elliot Meade, stroke; Andrew Bair, 7; Daniel Kolbe, 6; Connor Coughlin, 5; Christian Aral, 4; Jonathon Rosow, 3; Sam Harris, 2; John Clapp, bow
 
Freshman Eight
Oliver Jennings, cox; Killian Brackey, stroke; Max Fenner, 7; Tucker Klutey, 6; Alastair Clements, 5; Eitan Rothman, 4; Oliver Grüeterich, 3; John Sluis, 2; Ryan Madani, bow