WEST WINDSOR, N.J. (Mercer Lake) – The Bucknell women’s rowing lightweight eight began competition at the IRA National Championship Regatta Saturday morning and earned a spot in a the Grand Final for a ninth consecutive year. The Bison placed second in their four-boat heat to automatically advance to Sunday’s Grand Final.

The top two boats in Bucknell’s heat earned automatic berths into the Grand Final and the Bison finished second to Stanford, the winner of the last four IRA lightweight eight titles. Bucknell and Stanford will be joined in the Grand Final by Radcliffe and Boston University, the top two finishers in the other heat.

A total of nine teams raced in the two heats. Sunday’s Grand Final will have six boats in it with Georgetown, Tulsa, Princeton, Wisconsin and MIT competing in Saturday afternoon’s repechage for the final two spots.

Bucknell, Georgetown, Princeton, Radcliffe, Stanford and Wisconsin have made up the six-boat Grand Final at the IRA Regatta each of the last seven years. Stanford has won four crowns, Wisconsin three and Bucknell one since the Bison started competing at the event in 2006.

Bucknell’s time of 6:48.332 Saturday morning was the fourth-fastest overall in the heats, trailing only Radcliffe, Stanford and Boston U.

The Bison have had plenty of success at the IRA Regatta in recent years with the lightweight eight finishing sixth in 2006, first in 2007, fourth in 2008, second in 2009, fifth in 2010 and 2011, second in 2012 and fourth a year ago.

Sunday’s Grand Final is scheduled for 11:55 a.m.

Varsity Lightweight Eight Results
Heat 2 (top 2 to Grand Final)
1. Stanford – 6:45.764
2. Bucknell – 6:48.332
3. Wisconsin – 6:59.283
4. MIT – 7:05.822