WEST WINDSOR, N.J. - The Columbia lightweight rowing team battled through foggy conditions, earning three grand final appearances on the opening day of the IRA National Championships. The varsity eight won its preliminary heat to start the day followed by a third-place finish by the coxed varsity four and the straight four took second.

Due to weather conditions anticipated on Sunday, the finals schedule has been modified. The varsity eight grand final will take place at 7:37 a.m. The coxed four will launch at 9:22 a.m., followed by the straight four at 9:29 a.m.

In the varsity eight, the Lions took the early lead and never looked back. By the 1,000-meter mark, Columbia edged out to a length lead over Harvard and the maintained the same amount of separation the rest of the way to take the victory.

The coxed four had an extremely competitive heat, with four of the five crews finishing within two seconds of each other. The Lions had to hold off Penn for the final spot in the grand final, topping the Quakers by 0.5 seconds. The coxed four also had a close race, edging Cornell by just 0.2 seconds and the fourth-place finishers, Temple, by about three seats.

"It was a solid squad effort to put all boats into the grand finals," said head coach Nich Lee Parker. "We had good execution from the varsity in dense fog and very humid conditions this morning. Overall, the competition was outstanding, as you would expect at the IRA's. The coxed four made some mistakes early, but recovered with a great sprint to qualify. The straight four created good speed early on and was able to maintain a good position. I think they know that they will have to maintain that pace in the finals on Sunday if they want to reach the podium.

Fans can watch all the action live on the USRowing YouTube PageLive results are also available and follow @columbiarowing@IRARowingChamps and @usrowing on Twitter for additional updates.