The Dartmouth men's heavyweight and lightweight crew teams were both selected to participate in the 2012 IRA National Championships it was announced on Wednesday (May 16). The Championship will take place May 31-June 2 on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J.

"With only nine Eastern Sprints schools gaining automatic bids, we knew that our 12th place finish put us in jeopardy of not being selected, but I think the IRA Selection Committee saw what everyone at the Eastern Sprints also saw: the petite final at Sprints was an epic race, with first through sixth separated by just four seconds. And the difference between ninth--the final automatic qualifying spot--and 12th was a matter of seats," said heavyweight coach Topher Bordeau.  "So while I feel for all of the strong teams that didn't make the field, I'm pleased that our guys' efforts in a tremendous race didn't go unnoticed. It took our best race to battle those other five crews all the way down the course, and the guys delivered their best race. It's gratifying to see the effort rewarded." 

The heavyweight selection marks the14th consecutive season the Big Green have reached the national championship. Dartmouth's best finish at the IRAs was during the 1992 season when they placed in a three-way tie for first.  The Big Green earned an at-large selection into the championship by virtue of its 12th place finish at the EARC sprints last weekend.

Dartmouth is one of 18 schools that received a bid and along with its first varsity eight will have the option of entering a second varsity eight, freshman eight, varsity four and open four.

"We know, though, that we're going to have to step up --as all of our opponents surely will--between now and the IRA just to stay in the mix," said Bordeau. "This weekend's Syracuse race gives us our first opportunity to do so. Syracuse is a strong, classy, and well-coached program, top to bottom. They work extremely hard and race the same way. Racing them will demand our best, and we're grateful for the chance to go up against them in the last home race for our seniors."

The Big Green lightweight crew, whose first varsity eight is currently the No. 2 crew in the nation, will be making their third consecutive appearance at the national championship. The Big Green is in the hunt for its first national championship after placing third at the national regatta last season.  The Big Green's best finish at IRA's is a second-place finish in both the 1990 and 1994 seasons. Dartmouth has placed in the top five in two of their last five appearances.

"We are excited to have the chance to race Harvard and the rest of the Lightweight league again," said lightweight head coach Dan Roock.  "This is the best time of year for training at Dartmouth as the days are warm, the river is calm, and the quality of rowing is high and there is plenty to work on heading into the national championship."

Dartmouth's lightweight crew team received one of seven bids to the national regatta based on their top-seven finish at EARC Sprints last weekend. Joining Dartmouth are Columbia, Cornell, Georgetown, Harvard, Princeton and Yale.

Both the heavyweight and lightweight squads will open competition in the three-day regatta on Thursday May 31 on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J.