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The 2017 Princeton athletic season will officially come to a close this weekend as the men’s and women’s crew teams traveling across the nation to attend the IRA championships. After the past three seasons of IRAs being on Mercer Lake, the championships have now made their home on the west coast at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center on Lake Natoma in Gold River, Calif. But each of the Princeton teams attending this weekend has a different storyline and different goals to accomplish.

The Princeton lightweight men’s team will look to continue their linear trend up the standings in IRAs over the past four years; after finishing sixth four years ago, the Tigers took third place last season. However, to do that, the Tigers will have to shake off the demons acquired from Eastern Sprints, an event which sophomore Danny Hogan deemed “an unfortunate wake up call” for the team. The Tigers took fifth in the event, keeping with many teams for the first part of the event, but then losing their composure towards the end.

Now, they will look to overcome the tough results of Sprints and conclude the season with a solid showing at IRAs. As Hogan noted, “We have had a good focus over the entire course of IRA training. I thought we did a good job of maintaining progress.” Sophomore Ryan Born, coxswain for the 1V boat, agreed, stating that “the guys have been throwing down their absolute best.”

Born is an opinion columnist for the Daily Princetonian.

Princeton looks to build upon a strong few weeks of practice and come to IRAs with a sense of urgency to end the season on a high note. Much of the same field from Eastern Sprints will be there for the IRA Championships, and the Tigers are hope to take what they learned from Sprints and use it against familiar foes this weekend. “IRAs have the potential to be anyone’s boat race,” said Born. The Tigers have a feeling it could be theirs; “I am confident in our crew that if we apply ourselves in the way we have trained, we can find ourselves in the position to win.”

The lightweight crew team will send three boats to the race; an eight man boat and two four man boats, one with a coxswain and one without. The eight man boat competes in their heat on Friday at 12:10 p.m., Eastern Time. The four man boats will compete at similar times; the V4+ heat is at 2:40 p.m., while the V4 heat occurs at 3:00 p.m. The final events occur on Sunday.

For the heavyweight men’s team, the goal is to build upon the massive success of last year and the prior three years. The Tigers have taken home seven medals in the past three years, with the capstone being last year, when they took home at least one of each medal and four medals overall. This year, they will be the fifth seed overall and try to build off of a successful showing at Eastern Sprints; most notably, the 2V will go into IRAs fresh off of a gold at Sprints. A member of the 2V team this year, sophomore Ralph Elsegood hopes he and the rest of his crew can take gold in IRAs as well.

Elsegood won gold last year as a member of the 3V team; speaking for other members of last year’s 3V team, he said “Winning IRAs in 2V would mean a huge amount. Including myself, five of last year’s 3V have progressed to the 2V and we are keen to repeat last year’s success.”

The 2V will be flanked by the 1V and 3V, each of whom placed third in the Eastern Sprints behind Harvard and Yale. Both will try to make a move up the polls this weekend and earn the title of best Ivy League performer at IRAs. The 1V will race at noon on Friday, the 2V at 12:50, the 3V at 1:40, and the 4V at 2:10. Like the lightweight team, the heavyweight team will conclude their events on Sunday with the finals.

While the men are looking to continue upward trends and overcoming unexpected results, the women have a very clear goal for IRAs: to overcome a .105 second defeat to Wisconsin during Eastern Sprints. The reason is quite simple; the women need to surpass the Badgers this weekend if they want to make it directly to the finals and not have to go through other heats. The top two seeds from each heat automatically make the finals and the Tigers are currently projected as third in their heat behind Stanford and Wisconsin.

While Stanford, last year’s IRA champion, is expected to win the heat, the line between Wisconsin and Princeton for second is razor thin. “It is really important for us to do well enough in the heat to go straight to the finals,” said Christina Warren, senior co-captain for the team. “Rowing fewer meters than other teams can never hurt during championship racing.”

The V8 will highlight the Tiger contingency this weekend, but Princeton will also send a V4 and a V2 for the weekend. Each of these boats can take success from Sprints and build upon it to find success this weekend. "One particular strength of our team this year is our ability to feed off of all the internal drive, even when we don't have the opportunity to piece against other boats” said freshman Emma Hopkins. "I think we have done a good job at continuing to raise our own level of competition even with a break from racing the league”.

Added Warren, "We took a lot of confidence moving out of Sprints. It was a hell of a race, and I think we all proved that we were willing to gut ourselves for each other on the course. We did leave with a bit of a chip on our shoulders, though, and that was one of the major motivating factors for our training the past four weeks ... we fully believe we can take a full swing at IRAs this weekend.”

The V8 will be racing at 11:40 a.m. on Saturday, right after the V2 takes the water at 11:30 a.m. The V4 will conclude the women’s initial day at 12:10 p.m., with the finals coming on Sunday.

The IRAs will be an exciting, action packed weekend of racing for both the men and the women. 2,813 miles from campus, the Tigers hope that they can end the 2017 spring season with one last set of races and one last set of medals.

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