BY GINA TALT
All four of Princeton’s men’s and women’s crews competed at home over the weekend – the only time they will all be on Carnegie Lake at the same time this season, and all four varsity boats came away with first-place finishes.
The men’s heavyweights opened up the weekend with a scrimmage sweep of Syracuse and Georgetown on Saturday morning. Princeton’s varsity eight finished the 2k race in 5:47.2 to comfortably defeat the Orangemen and Hoyas by nine seconds and 12 seconds, respectively. The race was the Tigers’ season debut, and with the win, they avenged last year’s loss to Syracuse in the IRA semifinals. Princeton also captured decisive wins in the second, third and fourth varsity races.
The next race of the day was much closer and had a championship feel to it as the third-ranked Princeton women’s openweight squad defeated sixth-ranked Ohio State and 13th-ranked Brown to open up its season. The Tigers won the race in 6:40.7, only three seconds ahead of the Buckeyes (6:43.8) and less than four seconds over the Bears (6:44.5). With the win over Brown, Princeton earned its sixth straight Class of 1987 Trophy and extended its Ivy win streak to 24 to continue its conference dominance. The second varsity and varsity four races were also tight, but the Tigers came up short in both, finishing second and third respectively.
The varsity eight victory is even more important this year than in years past in light of a recent change in the qualifying procedure for the NCAA tournament which created a 22-team bracket for which at least 11 bids must be at-large. Princeton, which lost last year’s Ivy Sprints even though it went 7-0 in the Ivy League, will need to either improve on last year’s Sprints finish or continue racking up wins over good teams. In addition to races against their Ancient Eight competitors, the Tigers will get another chance to bolster their case for the NCAA championship when they meet Michigan later in the season.
The last race of the day belonged to the men’s lightweights in the ninth battle for the Fosburgh Cup, which has been held between Georgetown and Princeton since 2005. The Tigers crossed the line in 6:08.8 to beat Georgetown by eight seconds and improved their record to 2-0. Princeton reclaimed the Cup after losing to the Hoyas for the first time in the Cup’s history last year.
“Everyone had that single goal in mind,” senior Gordon Eccles said. “It’s been a Princeton-dominated Cup in the past, and last year was a pretty big blow to lose it. It means a lot to bring it back home.”
The Tigers got out to an early lead over the Hoyas. Unlike its race against Navy last weekend, Princeton continued to push the pace throughout the entire race, and the result was a nearly 20-second improvement.
“We didn’t have a great piece against Navy,” Eccles said. “Going into this race, our goal was to win but also to prove to ourselves that we could row better, and we absolutely accomplished that this time around. I don’t think we necessarily peaked yet, but this [race] showed the potential of this boat.”
The women’s lightweights rounded out the weekend on Sunday with a matchup against rival Wisconsin. Princeton’s varsity eight cruised to a more than 13-second victory over the defending Eastern Sprints champions to open its season on a high note. The Tigers also got a strong performance from their second varsity team, which defeated the Badgers by just under three seconds.
Though the varsity eight victory is a very good sign, it is still early in the season, and the Badgers will be a much more formidable opponent in the future than they were this weekend due to the unusually limited water time that they have had so far season. Nevertheless, the win is a confidence boost for the Tigers, who look to return to their 2011 EAWRC championship form after going through a rebuilding year last year.
The lightweight women will travel west to compete in the San Diego Crew Classic this weekend, while the men’s heavyweights will host Navy for a dual race and the women’s open crew will travel to Ridgefield, N.J. to take on Columbia. The men’s lightweights will have one week off before heading to Cornell for the 50th Platt Cup regatta the following week.