PHILADELPHIA - A season long journey has led to Sunday's Eastern Sprints in Worcester, Mass., where the University of Pennsylvania lightweight rowing team will vie for a spot in the national championships.
The top seven boats qualify for the IRA Championships in June. Penn's first race will be the varsity fours at 8:06 a.m. The freshmen will then take on Princeton, Harvard and Navy at 9:24 a.m. Penn's freshman boat enters the weekend ranked No. 1 in the nation and has not lost to any of the boats racing on Sunday. The Quakers have won the freshman eight race at Sprints (Kilpatrick Cup) just once in the program's history - in 1967. That propelled the Red and Blue to their only Jope Cup which is awarded to the school who scores the highest point total at the Eastern Sprints.
Following that heat, the second varsity will take on four Ivy rivals - Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Dartmouth - at 10:12 a.m. The varsity matches up with Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth and Navy at noon. All of the Grand and Petite finals will take place in the afternoon.
Last year, the Red and Blue finished fifth in their heat and competed in the Petite Final where they were third with a finish of 6:38.160. That placed them ninth overall. The freshmen also finished fifth in their heat, but won the Petite Final. Penn blew away Georgetown and held off M.I.T. and Columbia to post a winning time of 6:31.268.
Last time out, the Quakers claimed the Callow Cup from Navy for the first time in 13 years. Meanwhile, the No. 1-ranked Penn freshmen were shorthanded and, in a matchup of unbeatens against Delaware, lost for the only time this season.
A full recap of the Eastern Sprints races can be found at PennAthletics.com following the conclusion of the day's events.