When freshman Justin Jones first joined the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity men’s rowing team, his coaches made a promise: in four years, they would send a crew to the Henley Royal Regatta, no matter what it took.

That was in 2010.

At the time, head coach John Pojednic and uni­ver­sity ath­letic director Peter Roby’s pledge seemed a dis­tant dream. The North­eastern men’s var­sity eight had not com­peted in the finals of the pres­ti­gious London races since 1978.

But the coaching staff was adamant.

They basi­cally put a stake in the ground and said, ‘We’re going,’” recalled Jones, now a senior and cap­tain of the men’s team.

The promise became a reality this past July. Jones and his crew­mates found them­selves in a boat on the River Thames, rowing for first place in the Ladies’ Chal­lenge Cup against Great Britain’s No. 2 national team crew.

North­eastern lost by a stern’s length, but only after leading the race for the first 2,000 meters – the tra­di­tional racing dis­tance. Great Britain took over in the last 112 meters, the addi­tional stretch unique to the Henley Regatta.

Read the article at Boston.com →