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Pearson’s team prepare for NCAA Champs after Ivy League victory

Bermudian Michelle Pearson and her Harvard team-mates will have their work cut out when they travel to the NCAA Division I Women’s Rowing Championships later this month, having been placed in a tough heat.Pearson and company will lock horns with Virginia, Washington, Yale and Brown, the defending champions, in the 16-school tournament.Each team will be required to field two boats of eight rowers and one boat of four rowers in the competition to be held on Lake Mercer in West Windsor, New Jersey from May 25 to 27.The NCAA Division I Women’s Rowing Committee announced the 16-team field that includes all conference champions over the weekend.The event comes on the heels of Pearson’s team winning the inaugural Ivy League Championship on Sunday.Commenting on the victory coach Liz O’Leary said: “It was breathtaking.“There were six super-fast eights in the varsity final and I knew it would take an extraordinary performance to win it.“We really put a lot of emphasis this weekend on our second 500 and on finding a base speed that was fast and sustainable.”The team, however, didn’t have things there own way in the finals, with top-seeded Princeton taking a narrow lead on a tightly packed field and led second-place Harvard by a half-second after 500 metres.The pair moved away from the field in the next 500, building a cushion of nearly three seconds on third placed Cornell, although Pearson’s team remained less than one second back of Princeton at the race’s midway point.They never let the leaders out of their sights and gradually moved through Princeton in the second half of the race.With 500 metres to go, the lead was nearly two seconds and the margin only grew as the finish approached with the side eventually winning by 2.8 seconds in a time of six minutes, 17.744 seconds.The school came second in the overall team competition behind Princeton and the win in the finals was their eighth title overall, and their first since 2003.