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Princeton won the heavyweight varsity eight final on the Cooper River, edging defending champion Washington. Two national championships for one school in a span of less than a week is quite an accomplishment. Unfortunately for Penn sports fans, this particular feat was accomplished by the Quakers' top rival, Princeton. Only five days after winning its third consecutive lacrosse national title, Princeton grabbed another title when its men's crew team rowed its way to the IRA national championship on the Cooper River in Pennsauken, N.J., last Saturday. In the heavyweight varsity eight final, the Tigers crossed the line 1.1 seconds ahead of defending champion Washington, winning in 5:31.1. California placed third, while the Quakers -- who won their preliminary heat on Thursday and placed third in Friday's semifinal heat -- finished in 5:40.0 to take home fourth place. "It was the top competition in the country. There were 20 crews in the varsity eight, and we took fourth," Penn coach Stan Bergman said. "That's nothing to be ashamed of, but we were hoping for a better performance." Only two weeks after taking first place at the Eastern Sprints Championships, the Quakers, who finished seventh at IRAs last year, could not get past Princeton a second time. Earlier in the season, Princeton defeated the Quakers at the Childs Cup at Columbia. That race, however, was decided by less than a second, unlike the IRA race in which Penn and Princeton were separated by almost nine seconds. Despite finishing with the victory, Princeton -- which finished third at Eastern Sprints but earned a seed when Harvard decided not to attend IRAs -- fell behind early in the 2,000 meter race. After pulling even with early leader Washington, the Tigers were back in the race. At this point, however, several crews, including Penn, were within a boat length of the Tigers. "That has to be the best race I've ever seen in rowing," Princeton coach Curtis Jordan said. After staying even with Washington for a while, Princeton pulled away in the final stretch of the race when coxswain Geoff Adamson raised the stroke rate to an exhausting 41 strokes per minute. In most crew races, 38 strokes per minute is the standard rate. "They don't row any higher at the Olympics," Adamson said. "That's what we rowed today." For Penn and most other teams in the Grand Final, Princeton's stroke rate was too much with which to keep pace. As a result, every crew except Washington was left in the wake of the black shell Princeton loaned from the U.S. national team. Although the first varsity eight race is the premier event, Princeton also took home victories in the second varsity eight and the lightweight eight, earning 354.7 points and the overall team title. Penn finished third in the second varsity eight and picked up various other points in the meet, earning 250.8 points and third place in the team standings. "The second varsity took third, and that's a tribute to them," Bergman said. "They're really a tough crew." Although the Penn team placed third overall and finished ahead of many talented crews in the varsity eight, the Quakers still walked away from the Cooper River with a feeling of disappointment. "We went into the event thinking we could win it, but we just couldn't get it together," Bergman said. For the Eastern Sprints champions, the team's fourth place finish at IRAs was not the way they wanted to end the season.

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