Mid-April means it’s mid-season for all four Princeton rowing teams.
The lightweight women have been the talk of the boathouse after putting together an impressive weekend of racing at the Knecht Cup Regatta on the Cooper River last weekend. The Varsity Eight nabbed second place behind No. 1 Stanford but finished in front of then-No. 2 Boston University by four seconds. This week, the Tigers have been rewarded with the No. 2 ranking in the IRA/USRowing Coaches Poll, with BU falling to third.
The lightweight women’s Varsity Four posted the win of the week, dramatically defeating BU by 0.2 seconds to earn a gold medal. “We didn’t even know the result until we landed on the dock,” senior co-captain Grace Miles said after the race. “Our boat speed was very similar to BU’s, we just outraced them. I was really proud of the poise and aggression that our boat rowed with this weekend,” Miles added.
Princeton will next face No. 6 Georgetown on Lake Carnegie in their final dual race before Eastern Sprints. The Hoyas placed sixth in the eights race and fifth in the fours race at the Knecht Cup.
The seventh-ranked heavyweight men’s squad swept Penn and Columbia last Saturday at Overpeck Lake Park. The First Varsity eight topped Penn by more than four seconds to retain the Childs Cup, with Columbia coming in third. The Childs Cups is the oldest contested cup in collegiate rowing — Princeton now owns a series-best 51 cups, including 25 of the last 26.
The Second and Third Varsity Eights defeated their Ivy competitors by even larger margins to remain perfect on the season. The closest race of the day came between Princeton’s third and fourth boats, with the 3V edging the 4V by 0.3 seconds.
This Saturday, Princeton will face its first true test of the season as third-ranked Harvard comes to town. The Crimson topped No. 5 Brown for the Stein Cup last week, but margins were tight across all crews.
The Princeton lightweight men have retained the second spot in the IRA/USRowing Coaches Poll after suffering their first loss of the season at No. 1 Cornell last weekend. In the First Varsity Eight, the Big Red edged the Tigers by 2.6 seconds. Margins in the Second and Third varsity eights races were both under 5 seconds.
Despite struggles in the top boats, the Tiger’s Fourth Varsity Eight raced to victory in 6:10.6. Junior Dennis Duffin reflected on the win, saying, “I think boat attitude was really important — we wanted to win for the guys next to us, and it worked out.”
The Lightweights will face No. 5 Penn and No. 9 Georgetown this weekend on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia in the race for the Wood-Hammond Trophy. Princeton’s First Varsity Eight beat Georgetown by 10 seconds earlier this season, but the Tigers expect stiffer competition from Penn. The Quakers have been defeated by No. 1 Cornell and No. 3 Columbia, but own wins over No. 4 Harvard and No. 6 Yale — two teams Princeton has not yet seen.
The open women, now ranked seventh in the CRCA/USRowing Coaches Poll, benefitted from an extra week of training following their success at the Ivy League Invite two weeks ago. During that regatta, the Tigers went a combined 21–1.
In the morning session, the First Varsity Eight topped Harvard-Radcliffe by 3.7 seconds and retained the Class of 1984 Plaque, which is contested between Princeton, Dartmouth, and Penn. In the afternoon racing, Princeton widened its margin over Harvard-Radcliffe to 12 seconds, while also defeating Cornell for the Class of 1975 Cup.
The Second Varsity made an even more impressive comeback on the day after losing to Harvard-Radcliffe by 6.2 seconds in the morning. After a lineup shuffle, the Tigers avenged their loss by more than three seconds in the later session.
Theses success have the Tigers itching to race again. Before the season, senior Sadie McGirr said: “It was exhilarating and encouraging to be in the mix with some really fast crews at NCAAs last spring.” One of those “really fast crews” was No. 4 Texas. This year, Princeton won’t have to wait until the last weekend of the season to race the Longhorns. The open women will host Texas and their top Ivy League rival, No. 9 Yale, on Saturday.