WEST WINDSOR, N.J. -- Two of Columbia's three heavyweight eights advanced to Petite Finals after good performances on Day Two of the IRA National Men's Rowing Championships Saturday.
    
Both the varsity eights and the freshman eights moved into Sunday's Petite Finals, while the second varsity eight will row in the Fourth Level Final.
    
The newly-constituted freshman eight, formed just two weeks ago, probably performed best of the Columbia trio. It finished third in Repechage 2, well behind Brown and Harvard, who also were 1-2 in the Eastern Sprints, but ahead of Penn.
    
"The freshmen did a good job," head coach Scott Alwin said. After spending part of the race trailing the field, the Lions spooled it up and overtook Penn.
    
"It's difficult to row through a crew when you are down to them," Alwin noted. "We were down to Penn, and had to row through them to take third place. Don't forget, Penn has fielded a freshman eight all season, and we're just starting. But we've shown steady improvement every time they hit the water. We should have a good Petite Final."
    
The freshmen will row against Navy, Penn, George Washington and Drexel in the Petite Final at 10:50 Sunday morning.
    
The varsity eight was unable to compete with most of the crews in its Semifinal A. Cal, Washington and Brown, all ranked in the nation's top six, waged their own battle for the top three spots, which sent them to Sunday's Grand Final. Northeastern, Navy and Columbia filled the other three slots, all qualifying for the Petite Final.
    
While Northeastern flirted with third place, Columbia vied with Navy for fourth. "We reached a point where we could have passed Navy," Alwin recalled, "but there was disagreement in the boat on when to make our move. It cost us the place."
    
Columbia did row well, as the coach noted, but had to fight a punishing crossing headwind which swept across Mercer Lake. The wind, crossing from left to right, put undue pressure on Columbia's starboard oarsmen.
    
The varsity eight will compete in its Petite Final at 12:25 Sunday. The Lions face Boston University, Cornell, Navy, Northeastern and Wisconsin.
    
The second varsity eight, seeking to bounce back from its Friday rowing, showed improvement in Saturday's C semifinal.
    
"They got off to a better start," Alwin said. "They had a chance to overtake Stanford for the important third place, but there was miscommunication in the boat and they missed their chance. I think they have a good chance of winning the Fourth Level Final Sunday; that would enable them to go home with a positive experience."
    
Columbia will row at 9:30 Sunday morning against FIT, George Washington, Hobart, Holy Cross, and the University of San Diego.
    
The fourth-ranked varsity lightweight eight will open Sunday's schedule in Heat 1 at 8 a.m., while the varsity four will row at 8:20. Both lightweight Petite Finals are slated just a few hours later, between 10 and 10:30 a.m. The lightweight Grand Final is scheduled to go off shortly after 12:15 p.m.
          
Today's results:

IRA National Men's Rowing Championship
Day Two, Saturday, May 31, 2014
Mercer Lake, West Windsor, N.J.

Note: only the events in which Columbia participated are listed

Varsity Eights - Semifinal A
1. California, 5:47.397
2. Washington, 5:49.863
3. Brown, 5:53.127
4. Northeastern, 5:55.225
5. Navy, 5:58.154
6. COLUMBIA, 6:03.831

Second Varsity Eights - Semifinal C
1. Dartmouth, 6:28.223
2. Syracuse, 6:29.090
3. Stanford, 6:31.693
4. COLUMBIA, 6:33.771
5. U. of San Diego, 6:41.318
6. Hobart, 6:47.257

Freshman Eights - Repechage 2
1. Brown, 5:55.779
2. Harvard, 5:59.576
3. COLUMBIA, 6:18.763
4. Penn, 6:23.289

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