For the freshmen, it was a continuation of a solid IRA in which they finished second in the opening-day repechage, while the varsity's third place represented a rebound after a poorly-rowed race in its own repechage.
The varsity faced an unusually-strong field in the Third Level Final, including Boston University and Dartmouth, both seeded in the top 10. But the Lions attacked the opposition from the start of the race, actually taking the lead.
"We had a decent start," head coach Mike Zimmer recalled. "We wanted to be more aggressive, and we were." Slightly beyond the first 500 meters of the 2000-meter race, Columbia hit a big move.
"We poked our nose out in front," said Zimmer, who was frantically pedaling a bicycle to keep up with his rowers. "We couldn't keep it, BU pushed out in front, but we rowed a pretty solid third 500, too."
In the final 500, the Lions set their sights on Dartmouth, which was falling behind Boston.
"We reeled up to get Dartmouth," Zimmer noted. Swiftly the distance between the two boats began to decrease, but the finish line came up much too soon for the Lions, as they missed the Big Green by 7/10 of a second. "I think we sprinted a little too late, or we would have caught them, too."
"I thought we were much better today," he concluded. "Much more representative of what we can do. This was a step forward."
The freshman heavyweight season had been plagued by inconsistency despite a strong work ethic, but the Lions took full advantage of the post-season.
"We positioned ourselves," head freshman coach Jon Douglas said, "to have good races at the IRA."
In their final one, the Petite Final, Columbia lost to Navy, Cornell and Stanford, all seeded higher than the Lions, but was able to defeat Dartmouth, also a higher seed, by a narrow margin — 27/100 of a second. Columbia also beat the University of California at San Diego.
"This race was really representative of our ability," Douglas noted. "Some of our guys are going to have a really big impact on the varsity next season."
IRA National Championship Regatta (Day Three)
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Cooper River, Camden County, N.J.
Varsity Eights, Third Level Final
1. Boston U., 5:43.406
2. Dartmouth, 5:46.021
3. COLUMBIA, 5:46.739
4. Penn, 5:52.877
5. Gonzaga, 6:03.112
6. UCSD, 6:05.114
Freshman Eights, Petite Final
1. Navy, 5:46.897
2. Cornell, 5:51.429
3. Stanford, 5:52.321
4. COLUMBIA, 5:55.709
5. Dartmouth, 5:55.978
6. UCSD, 6:01.466
Today's Boatings at the IRA Regatta
Janelle Geddes, cox; Ian Winthrop, stroke; Sam Collins, 7; Mike Donohue, 6; Ryan Jones, 5; Kyle Schmidt, 4; Noah Whitehead, 3; Charles Wu, 2; Sebastian Kirwan, bow
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