June 9, 2008
CAMDEN, N.J. - On June 7, the MIT Lightweights earned their seed at the IRA National Championships finishing eighth in a stacked field of EARC competitors. On a sultry Saturday that brought a fog delay and record temperatures, the Lights kept their cool and finished just 3.8 seconds behind Columbia in the Petite Final.
In the morning heats the Engineers faced off against the country's best including eventual gold and silver medalists Cornell and Navy as well as Dartmouth and Dad Vail Champion, Fordham. Midway through the heat Cornell, Navy and Dartmouth took command while MIT battled a determined Fordham squad. Going into the last 400 meters the Engineers stumbled and let Fordham regain a bow deck lead by the finish.
In the final, MIT got another look at Fordham as well as Columbia who were sixth place finishers at the EARC Sprints. Tech had faced Columbia earlier in the season at the Geiger Cup and finished 3.3 back in strong tailwind conditions. On this day, history repeated itself on flat water as Columbia chipped away at MIT over the 2000 meter course, winning the Petite Final in a time of 5:54.1.
"We are developing the skills and horsepower to row with the best" commented head coach Ted Benford. "We have really come a long way and we learned a lot again today. I think next year's varsity got a good look at where we need to be to succeed on the national stage."
Some satisfaction was regained for the young squad by controlling Fordham. MIT took an early lead over the Rams and did not allow them to regain any footing beating them by open water.
This is the first appearance for MIT at the IRA National Championships since 2002 when the Tech finished 10th.
1. Cornell, 5:49.3
2. Navy, 5:51.6
3. Dartmouth, 5:52.
4. Fordham, 6:02.1
5. MIT, 6:02.7
1. Columbia, 5:54.1
2. MIT, 5:57.8
3. Fordham, 6:01.8