The men's and women's crew teams continued their recent national dominance this season, but neither group was able to capture the overall title, with the women placing fifth and the men placing three squads in the top five.
Women's crew dominates
The women's crew team — which has won six national championships in the past 14 seasons — placed fifth overall at the Division I Women's Rowing Championship this spring at Lake Natoma in California. With Brown's second varsity eight taking the gold, the team racked up 71 points overall, but fell to first-time champion University of Virginia. The Cavaliers scored 87 points to capture the crown, followed by the University of California, Princeton and Stanford.
Twelve days before traveling to nationals, the women's team hit the water at the EAWRC Sprints in Camden, New Jersey. There, the squad rowed to a third-place finish. The first, second and third varsity four boats and the third varsity eight each won their heats.
Racing was not the only thing on the rowers' minds, though.
"A lot of people had to reschedule finals," said rower Ali Mittelberger '13. "A bunch of people took their finals the morning after Eastern Sprints."
Some even took them on the bus.
While the majority of Brown students were recovering from finals and beginning their summer holidays, the crew team was still very much in season.
"After finals, we continued to seat race to make the fastest boats," said Mairi McKellop '13. "That included two-a-day practices up until the day that we left for California."
Nationals spanned May 28–30, with races each day. The Bears' second varsity eight dominated all weekend and cruised to the gold with a time of 6:25.30. The next closest boat was from Stanford, nearly five seconds behind at 6:29.91.
"I felt unbelievably lucky to be a part of the program," said Mittelberger, a rower on the gold-medal-winning second varsity eight.
In the varsity eight races, Brown fell second to Michigan State. The Bears clocked in at 6:32.60 behind the Spartans at 6:28.53.
Brown's varsity four took a fifth-place finish.
The Bears have placed in the top five in all 14 NCAA Division I Rowing Championships since 1997. They took first in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2007 and 2008, and they also accumulated three second-place finishes in that time.
Men thrive at nationals
The men's crew team finished its season successfully, as well. In their final race at the IRA National Championship Regatta in Camden, N.J., the team placed four boats in the top six in the country, with the second varsity eight earning a silver medal.
Bruno finished the season with an undefeated track record against the Ivy League and a third-place finish at EARC Sprints. As a result, they earned a bid to nationals, and were up against entirely new competition. After day one of racing on June 3, all five Brown boats advanced to the semifinals.
"The racing is very competitive across the board, and there are a lot of good teams here in every event," Head Coach Paul Cooke '89 told Brown Sports Information.
Four Brown boats survived day two. The open four qualified for the grand finals with a come-from-behind race. Varsity four earned its bid by making the finals cut-off just 0.2 seconds in front of the next boat. The second varsity eight boat battled the University of Washington for the top spot, only to come up one second short. But it was still enough to make it to the next day.
In an incredibly close race, the semifinal that included the varsity eight resulted in a photo finish. The top four boats all crossed the line within a second of each other, as Brown finished second to Harvard.
"A lot of our boats were in very close races today, and the team showed great character and resolve to finish where it did," Cooke told Brown Sports Information. "I felt like our guys really influenced and inspired each other, and everyone on the team had a part in our energy today."
The Bears' second varsity eight earned the silver on the final day on the water.
The varsity eight rowed its fourth race in three days to finish fifth. The open four placed fourth, and varsity four finished sixth.
"I thought it was a good regatta this weekend overall," Cooke told Brown Sports Information. "The highlights for us were the second varsity's final and the varsity semi; those were both terrific performances."