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Photo Credit: GoPrincetonTigers.com

HYP week is always a big one for the men’s lightweight crew with a chance to best their two biggest rivals - the Crimson and the Bulldogs. However, few expected this season’s racing would produce results as exciting as last year’s.

In 2018, Princeton’s first varsity eight bested then No. 1 Harvard by just 1.2 seconds on Yale’s home course. This year, the Tigers entered the regatta as the clear favorite, ranked second in the nation and already in possession of a big win over the reigning national champions from Columbia.

It was No. 5 Yale, though, who took a big lead early in the race, jumping out to a boat-length advantage in the first 750 meters. Princeton chased after the Bulldogs, easily shaking off No. 4 Harvard in the process; the Crimson finished a distant 13 seconds behind the leaders.

By 1,250 meters down in the 2,000m race, the Tigers had taken back a few seats, but were still struggling in the windy conditions on Lake Carnegie. Both Princeton and Yale kicked it into high gear with 500 meters to go. With only 250 meters left, Princeton still faced a six-seat deficit.

They didn't give up. With each stroke, the Tigers took half a seat. They beat Yale by the narrowest of margins — just 0.2 seconds.

Men’s lightweight head coach Marty Crotty was thoroughly impressed by his crew’s performance.

"I'm ecstatic about the way the first eight rowed, despite being so far down early in the race," Crotty said. "I'm so happy that the seniors could race their last race on Carnegie like this. Anybody in the race or watching will be taking about this one for the next 100 years."

This year’s win also marks the first time Princeton lightweights have won the HYP regatta at home on Lake Carnegie since 1998. The team retained its No. 2 ranking despite a second-place finish by the second varsity eight and third place finishes for the third and fourth boats.

Next year, the HYP regatta will move back to the Charles River Basin in Boston. But before that, the Tigers will focus on the first of this spring’s championship races, Eastern Sprints to be raced in Worcester, Mass. on May 19.

The seventh-ranked heavyweight men were also in action this past weekend, traveling to Derby, Conn. to take on the two-time defending national champions, No. 1 Yale and No. 16 Cornell. The first varsity eight fell to the Bulldogs by 4.7 seconds, but earned a win over the Big Red.

The Heavies’ second varsity eight posted the best margin of the day, crossing the finish line just four tenths of a second behind Yale.

The seventh-ranked women’s openweight team played host to No. 12 Wisconsin, No. 14 Rutgers, and Columbia. Both the first and second varsity eights posted comfortable wins over their challengers, but the varsity four finished third behind Rutgers and Wisconsin.

This week, the women’s team was also excited to see senior Hannah Paynter named one of eight winners of the Spirit of Princeton Award. The award annually honors "students who have made a strong commitment to enhancing the undergraduate experience through contributions to student organizations, athletics, community service, religious life, residential life and the arts."

Paynter is a two-time Ivy League medalist in the second varsity eight and a psychology major who will also earn certificates in teacher preparation and African American studies. She served as the president of Cloister Inn and the Interclub Council for the 2018–19 term. She is also a front desk monitor at Dillon Gym and has been involved with a variety of clubs and organizations on campus, ranging from TigerCall to the Vote 100 initiative.

“I’ve been called a ‘hype train’ on the women’s open rowing team since my sophomore year,” Paynter said. “To be recognized on a campus-wide scale for not only that same attitude but for actual contributions on campus is incredibly validating. We get to be here for four short years, and I’ve found time moves a bit slower when you’re giving your all and having fun along the way, in whatever you do.”

Paynter is beloved by her teammates, who say they are lucky to have her.  “She has been relentless in her pursuit of excellence while being endlessly positive,” says senior Lauren Barnard. “She is really one of a kind, and this award is perfect for her.”

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