Bears Sweep EARC Sprints, Earn Ivy League Title

May 10, 2009

Worcester, MA - The men's crew turned in a tour de force performance on Sunday afternoon at the EARC Sprints, winning all five events that they were entered in, and winning the overall points trophy and the Ivy League title in the process. A terrific day at Lake Quinsigamond was marked by several comeback victories, as Brown continually found a way to win. The league championship is the second in a row for the Bears, who also won it in 2008, when they finished second behind only Wisconsin.

The day started early, as the varsity fours grand final went off at 7:40 a.m., as there were no heats needed for the fours. Brown set the right tone early, taking a decisive first place with a time of 6:44.3. MIT came second, trailing well behind at 6:57.9, while Northeastern rounded out the medal winners by placing third with a time of 7:04.0. The Bears then continued on with heats for the remainder of the morning, as the freshman eight, second freshman eight, varsity eight, and second varsity eight each won their heat. Even more impressively, each of the boats recorded either the fastest or second-fastest heat time in their event, ensuring that they would be placed in the preferred lanes in the afternoon.

The second freshman eight kicked off the start of the afternoon finals, as the novice Bears looked to build on the momentum of the morning. They quickly proved up to the task, as Bruno was in good form early, taking the second gold medal of the day. Brown crossed the line at 6:09.8, comfortably ahead of second place Wisconsin, which finished in 6:12.7. Harvard rounded out the top three, coming in at 6:15.0.

Rookies remained in the spotlight next, as the first freshman eights took center stage. In the finals, Cornell jumped off the line and took the early lead. The Big Red were unable to shake loose of the field, however, and maintained just a slender lead for the bulk of the race, heading into the final 500 meters nearly even with both Brown and Harvard. Entering the last 300 meters the Bears kicked in their sprint though, and quickly began to pull away from the opposition. Harvard was nearly able to match Bruno's effort, but came up just short, coming in .6 seconds behind. Brown finished at 5:58.2 to take the Kenneth Burns Trophy, while the Crimson crossed the line in 5:58.8. Cornell, meanwhile, faded after their early burst, and came in a distant third at 6:05.8.

The action then moved to the varsity crews, starting with the second varsity eights. This time it was Brown pushing immediately off the line, though the Bears were able to sustain their intensity throughout the duration of the 2000 meter course. Rowing around 37 beats per minute, Bruno rode a quick, light rhythm to an early lead, which they continued to increase, taking open water around the 1100 meter mark. Though Wisconsin made a late push to regain contact, the Bears kept a comfortable lead, and took the Richard Glenden Cup with a time of 5:47.3. The Badgers were second at 5:51.3, while Boston University was the final medalist at 5:53.6.

The final race of the day proved to be the most exciting as well, as Brown's varsity eight, composed of, from bow, Christian Crynes, Chris Bowman, Matt Wheeler, Cole Bonner, Ben Duggan, Brent Mylrea, Nick Ritter, stroke Scott Morgan, and coxswain Rob O'Leary, looked to cap off an undefeated day. The Bears also needed to finish third or better to win the team points championship. In a pattern similar to the freshman eights, Harvard jumped off the line quickly, taking a two-seat lead by the 500 meter mark, with the rest of the pack tightly knit together. Between the 750 and 1250 meter marks, the Bears began to move away from the field, going up two seats on Wisconsin, and four on the remainder of the boats. However, Harvard, rowing high at around 38 beats per minute, continued to move away, and held a five seat advantage with only 700 meters to go.

Though it looked as though the Bears would have to settle for a second place finish to end the day, Bruno refused to go down without a fight, and began slowly moving back on the Crimson. With about 400 meters remaining, Brown, still down three seats, began to make a tremendous sprint, suddenly taking seats on Harvard with seemingly remarkable ease. As the Brown contingent roared from the shore, the Bears completely shifted the momentum of the race by pulling even. Harvard seemed to be deflated by the turn of events, fading slightly as Brown went on to win by two seats, taking the Worcester Cup with a time of 5:41.4. Harvard finished a close second at 5:42.6, while Wisconsin was third at 5:44.5. Cornell, Northeastern, and Boston University rounded out the rest of the grand final.

Along with the Worcester Cup, given to the top varsity eight, Brown also won the Rowe Cup for most team points, and the Ivy League title by being the top Ancient Eight crew. The Bears won the team trophy with 41 points, while Harvard was second with 33, and Wisconsin was a close third with 32.

"Today was a terrific day for us," head coach Paul Cooke said. "I think the key for us was that guys have been racing each other in practice all season, and that really got us prepared well for the weekend."

The Bears will be back in action on May 23, when they travel to take on Boston University in their final tune up before the IRA National Championships.