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PHILADELPHIA - For the first time in three years, the University of Pennsylvania lightweight rowing team will head to the IRA regatta with a chance to compete for the national championship. The Quakers will send two boats to Sunday's regatta in Sacramento, Calif.
Penn's varsity will compete in its heat at 8:10 a.m. The Quakers are head-to-head with Ivy rivals Cornell, Yale and Dartmouth. The other heat consists of three more Ivy teams in Princeton, Harvard and Columbia in addition to Georgetown. Penn's varsity 4 will compete against Princeton, Columbia, Cornell and Yale in an all-Ivy heat at 8:30 a.m. In each event, the top three advance to the grand final and the next three qualify for the petite final.
The Red and Blue reached the 2013 IRA regatta with a seventh-place finish at Eastern Sprints on May 19. The varsity finished fourth in its heat with a time of 6:38.235. That put the Quakers in the petite final with M.I.T., Georgetown and Navy, who finished six seconds behind Penn in their heat. Penn needed a victory to qualify for the IRA regatta and the varsity crew came through. The Quakers won in convincing fashion with a time of 6:22.180. The Hoyas were the next closest boat - five seconds behind.
In Penn's last appearance at this regatta, the Quakers finished seventh in the nation in 2010. A close race throughout, the top five boats all finished within six seconds of each other with Penn and Dartmouth battling it out for sixth and seventh place. The Big Green edged the Quakers by just more than a second as Dartmouth finished in 5:52.225 and Penn finished in 5:53.826. The seventh-place finish was the highest for the Penn lightweights since the 2005 team finished third.
A full recap of the Eastern Sprints races can be found at PennAthletics.com following the conclusion of the day's events.