WORCESTER, Mass. -- The first varsity eight won its grand final at the National Invitational Rowing Championships for the first time ever and the Bates men's rowing team celebrated a perfect and historic day Friday on Lake Quinsigamond.
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With the first varsity eight racing to the finish in 5:41.384, the Bobcats edged Marist (5:42.320) and perennial foe Hobart (5:43.680) in the grand final to qualify for the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championship Regatta, to be held at Mercer Lake in Princeton, N.J., June 1-3. By defeating NESCAC rivals Williams, Tufts and Wesleyan, Bates won the NESCAC Championship for the second straight year and for the third time since 2015.
It will be Bates' first appearance at IRA's, competing against the best of the best in collegiate rowing, including the likes of Washington, Harvard and Yale. The IRA National Championships have been held since 1895 and serve as the National Championship for men's heavyweight, men's lightweight and women's lightweight rowing.
The day started off on a strong note for the Bobcats, with the open four winning its heat with a time of 6:55.571. Then the second varsity eight won its heat (6:01.349) and the first varsity eight won its heat, clocking in at 5:51.635.
After victories in the heats, the Bobcats proceeded to make history in all three grand finals.
The open four became the first Bates men's crew in history to win its grand final at the National Invitational Rowing Championships, racing to the finish in 6:59.612, easily defeating second place New Hampshire (7:06.382).
Then the second varsity eight stunned Hobart with a remarkable time of 5:46.210, cutting more than 14 seconds off the Bobcats' performance in their heat. Hobart cut eight seconds off its heat time to finish in 5:48.023, about two seconds behind Bates.
The undefeated performances turned in by the open four and second varsity eight turned out to be a good omen for the first varsity eight crew, as they cut 10 seconds of their heat time to win the gold medal and send Bates to the next level of collegiate rowing.