The University men’s crew team knew its varsity four-man boat was good. The team’s win at this year’s Dad Vail Championships and the resulting invitation to the Henley Royal Regatta in England was proof of that. This past weekend, however, the team found out just how good the boat really is.
The team returned to the Intercollegiate Rowing Association championships in Camden, N.J., to defend its national championship and IRA championship. They accomplished both goals.
“Last year was very special because it was the first time we won (the national championship), and we surprised a lot of people,” said senior rower Matt Rich. “This year we gained a lot of respect for the University and the Midwest by winning it again.”
Although only a club team, Minnesota has proven its ability by beating established varsity programs at the Dad Vails and the IRA championships and by securing the invitation to the Henley Regatta. Now, the team is ready to prove to the University it is worthy of its success.
“People don’t know crew at this school. People don’t know how hard we work,” Rich said.
The men’s varsity four-man boat moved a bit closer to its goal by defending its national championship rowing title and IRA championship.
“It’s really great to win the IRA’s because that’s where the ultimate competition is,” said sophomore Peter Medin. “You don’t find competition better than you find out there. (Winning at the IRAs) is like winning one for the little guy.”
The team beat Georgetown University by three seconds to win the IRA championship and its second national championship. Although not sanctioned by the NCAA, the IRA championship is widely considered by crew teams to be the national championship of rowing. The IRA championships attract schools like Harvard, Princeton and Yale each year.
“It feels so good to win, especially coming from Minnesota, because the Eastern schools and the Ivy League schools don’t consider Midwestern schools much competition,” Rich said.
The next competition for the varsity boat is the Henley Royal Regatta, July 2-6 in Oxfordshire, England. The varsity boat was selected out of 100 colleges to be the United States’ representative at the Royal Regatta.