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All for One

Freshman four take bronze in National Championships

The freshman four with cox placed third in its race in 6:37.61 to win the bronze medal on the third day of the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) National Championships on the Cooper River on Saturday. The varsity eight won its Third Level Final to place 13th overall, while the varsity four finished sixth in its Petite Final.

The freshman four started rowing at a 45 before settling into a 35, rowing long, composed strokes. BU was tied with Princeton and Yale in second place for the first 500m. California had moved into first by the 1000m mark, with the Terriers and the Bulldogs level, still in second. Yale made a move to secure silver, leaving BU and Princeton to battle for third through the third 500m. In the sprint to the finish, BU took the bronze.

In the varsity eight, the Terriers were in the mix for the second and third spots behind Navy off the start. BU moved up a few seats on the Midshipmen in the second 500m and made a big move at the 1000m mark to walk out on Navy. Navy was persistent, however, dogging the Terriers through the rest of the course. BU was rowing at a 39 in the last hundred meters to hold a 1/2 length lead on Navy. The Terriers’ time of 5:44.67 was the tenth-fastest time turned in by a crew in all four of the varsity eight finals.

"We moved together and really showed what we can do," said head coach Rodney Pratt. " It’s always good to row your best at the IRAs. This was a fun group to coach. I’ve never had all five of my seniors in in varsity boat before."

The varsity four with cox hovered around fourth place for most of the race but dropped to sixth in the last 500m to finish 12th overall in 6:41.80. The open four had a good start, rowing a 36, but Michigan moved past BU and Navy at 500m. The race stayed close, with all the boats within a few seats of one another. The Terriers started to slip at 750m, behind Michigan, Dartmouth, Penn and Navy. Rowing a 34, BU made a push at 1250m and turned it up again at 1500m to take third place from the Big Green in 7:09.26.

The Terriers got off to a slow start in the varsity four without cox, trailing the field by two seats at 500m. BU challenged Michigan and moved level with Lehigh in fourth. The four drafted off MIT to creep up onto and pass Temple into the third spot behind Brown and the Engineers in the third 500m. However, the Wolverines had something in reserve and snuck back into third place. BU crossed the line in 6:39.37.

BU’s freshman eight had a rough start to the race, being warned for being late and staying level with Dartmouth in fifth place through the first 1000m. The eight made a move at 1000m but it fell short and the Terriers could not recover, finishing in fifth place (6:09.45).

Head coach Rodney Pratt reports that the contest  becomes more competitive every year. 

“Each year,” says Pratt, now in his 17th year at BU, “we have to bring in better people just to stay in the same place. When I first came here, we used to just recruit students who were here on campus, but if we did that now, we would never get the high-caliber athletes we need to compete.” 

To stay in the game, Pratt now literally searches the world for talent, scouting the junior world championships for likely recruits. The tactic seems to be working. In recent years, his team has routinely placed among the top 15 collegiate teams nationally, finishing in sixth place in 2004 and in fourth place in 2005.

At the 2007 EARC (Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges) Eastern Sprints, held on Worcester’s Lake Quinsigamond on May 13, all four seeded Boston University men’s crew boats finished at or above their seeding, and the varsity eight team finished second in the Petite Final to place eighth overall.

To see what it takes to row on a top collegiate team, watch the slide show above.