By James Duffy, sports editor

For the 49th time in program history, the Northeastern University (NU) men’s rowing team will compete at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship starting on June 3.

The Huskies clinched an automatic spot in the prestigious national tournament by claiming a seventh-place finish at the Eastern Sprints on May 15. The crew was coming off a strong victory over the University of Wisconsin and carried the momentum into the national qualifiers.

Three boats will represent NU at the IRAs in New Jersey: The first varsity, second varsity and varsity four.

“This is a great opportunity for a young squad to experience National Championship racing and figure out how to navigate their way through the progression of the championship,” head coach John Pojednic said in an email to The News. “This experience will be invaluable to them in the future.”

As Pojednic alluded to, this Huskies roster is loaded with underclassmen, especially the first varsity boat, which features no seniors, two juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen.

“I think with youth comes opportunity,” Pojednic said. “The guys get a little bit better every day and they aren’t—at least they shouldn’t be—encumbered by expectations of a certain level of performance.”

Pojednic has high hopes for his young rowers and expects that the national championships will be a suitable send-off for his departing seniors.

“It’s important to me that our seniors finish their careers here racing very hard and in a manner they can be proud of,” he said. “Beyond that, I would like to see the entire team take a lot of energy and enthusiasm into the national championship racing and see how fast they can go.”

The tournament begins on June 3 with heats and will run until June 5. Pojednic hopes that the team’s practices and his coaching will help to make for a successful regatta.

“We’ve made a few adjustments to our lineups, and have invested some solid time in reinforcing the basics of how we row and race,” he said. “We hope that will carry over into the championship racing.”

The Huskies are currently ranked eighth nationally in the coaches poll, and have been competitive against some of the best crews in the nation: Their varsity eight boat is the eighth fastest in the country. They’ll see some familiar boats at the IRA’s, as every crew they rowed against this season qualified to race.

Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics.