"We wanted to row our best race," head freshman coach Jon Douglas said. "The guys did the best they could for today. I'm proud of what they've done."
Although the Lions had executed their race plan perfectly in Thursday's repechage, the coaching staff altered it somewhat for the semifinals, where they faced a stronger and faster field.
"We were more aggressive with our race plan," Douglas said. "We planned for a fast start. We wanted to go from the fast start into a really strong base."
And they followed that plan to perfection, emerging side-by-side with Brown and in the midst of the other leaders. But the "s" in IRA semifinal can well stand for "speed", and the speed exhibited by the top crews, including California, Princeton and Navy, as well as the Brown Bears, began to tell on the valiant Lions.
"We knew they all had fast boats," Douglas explained. "The speed of the race got away from us. At one point we were moving on Navy, but by that time they were out of contention."
The top-seeded Cal Bears blazed down the 2000-meter Cooper River course in 5:39.898, a full five seconds faster than second-place Princeton's 5:44.794. Brown, the other team from the semifinal to qualify for the Grand Final, came in third in 5:47.506.
Navy was fourth, in 5:52.593, followed by Columbia, 5:56.807, and the University of California at San Diego, sixth in 6:08.236.
San Diego and Navy will join Columbia in Saturday's Petite Final, scheduled to begin at 9:45 a.m. Cornell, Dartmouth and Stanford round out the field.
"Today's race set us up well for tomorrow," Douglas said.
The freshman heavyweights will be joined on the river by Columbia's varsity heavyweight eight, which rows in the Third Level Final at 11:15, and the Lion varsity lightweight eight, competing in its initial heat at 7:31 a.m.
The heavyweights will compete against a field comprising Boston University, Penn, Gonzaga, and UCSD, while the lightweights, rowing for a spot in the national lightweight grand final, go up against Navy, Dartmouth and Yale in the second of two four-boat heats.
IRA National Championship Regatta (Day Two)
Friday, June 3, 2011
Cooper River, Camden County, N.J.
Freshman Eights, Semifinal Two
1. Cal, 5:39.898
2. Princeton, 5:44.794
3. Brown, 5:47.506
4. Navy, 5:52.593
5. COLUMBIA, 5:56.807
6. UCSD, 6:08.236
Today's Boating at the IRA Regatta
Seungki Lee, cox; Ben Coombs, stroke; Connor Jones, 7; Matt Lonski, 6; Clemens Auersperg, 5; John Clapp, 4; Daniel Kolbe, 3; Brent Laurint, 2; Roger Stone, bow