In Sunday’s first-ever Ivy League Championship, the Radcliffe heavyweight varsity eight kicked off a new Ancient Eight tradition in style.
Initially trailing the top-seeded Princeton boat, the Black and White 1V raced past the Tigers to capture the Ivy title, its first since 2003. The rest of the heavyweights did not fare quite as well, though, and Princeton topped Radcliffe by three points to take the overall team title.
The lightweights, competing at Eastern Sprints on Sunday, earned a win from its second varsity eight, marking the lightweights’ first Sprints victory in five years. But the lightweight 1V couldn’t match its heavyweight counterpart, finishing third behind Wisconsin and Bucknell.
Despite racing in all six grand finals in Sunday’s Ivy League Championship, held on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J., the Black and White had only two boats came away with the victory: the 1V and the varsity four A.
The Radcliffe second varsity eight, the varsity four B, and the third varsity eight all placed fourth, while the Black and White varsity four C took second.
But in the biggest race of the day, Radcliffe pulled through.
The first varsity eight, seeded fifth entering Sunday’s championship, qualified for grand finals by winning its heat and finishing a full four seconds ahead of its Princeton counterpart.
It appeared the Tigers would avenge that heat loss early on in the grand final, as Princeton increased its lead over second-place Radcliffe from .49 seconds at the end of the first 500 meters to .77 seconds halfway through the race.
But that’s when the tide started to turn.
The Black and White pulled away from Princeton over the next 500,turning a .77-second deficit into nearly a two-second advantage. Radcliffe pulled away to finish in 6:17.74 in what became nearly a three-second win, with Cornell taking second over third-place Dartmouth.
“I think we were right in it from the get-go,” says Jenna Gregorie, a member of the first varsity eight. “We followed our race plan, and it was just really exciting to be able to have that amazing performance all come together when it mattered at the end of the season.”
The 1V will continue its season, competing in the NCAA Rowing Championships, held May 25-27.
“Right now we’re back at it training hard, trying to maintain our fitness level and working on some technical issues,” Gregorie says. “Every day we’re learning something new, trying to work together more cohesively, building that power and that speed.”
In the varsity four A grand final, which took place earlier on Sunday, it was the same pattern: Princeton took an early lead only to fall behind the eventual winner, Radcliffe. The Black and White completed the 2000-meter course in 7:07.08, more than two seconds faster than the Tigers.