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The Men's Lightweight Rowing team has won back-to-back medals at the IRA National Championship.  

Credit: Weining Ding

On Sunday afternoon in West Windsor, N.J., the Quakers made history, winning back-to-back medals at the IRA National Championship for the first time since the 1992 and 1993 seasons. At the end of the National Championship, Penn lightweight rowing was the only program to walk out with medals in all three events.

“I think we have a strong team this year and they've raced hard really every time,” said coach Colin Farrell on the feat. “It’s not easy, [and] it's really hard to be at the top and feel like you're competing to win, and trying to do that on a yearly basis.”

In the first lightweight Varsity 2nd 8+ race, the Quakers' boat was coxed by junior Claire Yoo, and the rest of the boat comprised of seniors Niels Terwiesch and Quinn Sullivan, juniors Daniel Ward, Frank Luo, and George Drago, sophomore Jake Brewington, and freshmen Kevin Crotty and Aden Anderson. The Quakers initially trailed near the back, only ahead of Cornell, with this placing never really changing. 

By the 1000-meter mark, the Quakers were neck and neck with Dartmouth, with Yale trailing behind. However, as the race progressed toward the final stretch, both Dartmouth and Yale pulled away, leaving the Quakers to finish in last place with a time of 06:02.877. The start wasn't what the Red and Blue hoped for.

After finishing last in the first race, the Quakers bounced back in the second Lightweight Varsity 8+ race. The Red and Blue started the race with a bang by gaining the lead; they didn’t take their foot off the pedal, maintaining the lead, and ultimately secured first place with an impressive time of 05:37.126. Coxed by junior Asher Gold, the boat was comprised of seniors Charlie Bourget, Nathaniel Sass and Simon Dubiel, along with junior Harrison Azrak, and sophomores Finn Kiely, Ian Holly, and Owen Kudreikis. 

This momentum continued with the Varsity 4+ Trial-Time 1, where the Quakers secured third out of 11 boats. Following this race, the Quakers advanced to the Grand Final after securing first place in the Varsity 4+ Semi-Final – improving their time. The Red and Blue dominated the race from start to finish. This boat was coxed by sophomore Julia Dell'Ariccia, and it included freshman Will Drinkall, sophomores Peter Kapp and Denis Corr, and senior Dominick Richiuso.

On the second and third days of the IRA National Championship, the Red and Blue lightweight rowing team excelled, securing medals in each race they participated in, placing second once and third twice.

In the Varsity 4+ Grand Final, the Red and Blue were in a tight race for third place, trailing both Columbia and Georgetown, who were leading by two seconds. With the battle for third being between the Quakers and Big Red, the Red and Blue accelerated, ultimately securing a bronze medal finish.

In the 2nd Varsity 8+ Grand Final, after finishing last in the previous race, the Red and Blue changed the tides, starting strong with the lead at the 500m mark. However, Harvard made it a close race and ultimately took the lead soon after. The Quakers placed second with a remarkable time, clocking in at 05:50.183, just three seconds behind Harvard. Starting from the bottom of the ranks to finishing in the top two, Penn saw themselves complete a remarkable turnaround.

“It just shows a little bit in our league, how competitive things are, how tight they are, and what the difference between just being a little bit off and not having your best day can look like,” Farrell said while reflecting on this miraculous turnaround. “I think it was a little reminder for us to be on our game and yeah, I was really proud of the way the crew responded and I thought they rebounded really well to that.”

In the Varsity Eights Grand Final race, the Quakers started in fourth place at the 500m mark, trailing Harvard, Princeton, and Dartmouth. However, they closed the gap and competed for second, ultimately securing third place. 

The competition marks a resounding success to end the lightweight rowing season, which will pick up again next fall.