Heavyweights Take Care Of Business, Send Three Eights To IRA Semifinals
Despite being only miles away from the Princeton campus, heavyweight head coach Greg Hughes had never sent a boat to compete on Mercer Lake prior to Friday's opening session of the 2014 IRA national championships. His first experience turned out to be a rousing success.
The fifth-seeded Princeton heavyweights sent each of their varsity eight boats to Saturday's semifinal races, including the Eastern Sprints bronze medalist varsity eight, which topped fourth-seeded Brown by close to three seconds to win the fourth of four morning heats. While the top two advance directly to the semifinals, the victory allowed Princeton to move into the second semifinal (11:30) and avoid both No. 1 Washington and No. 2 California — both of whom will face Brown in the first semifinal (11:15).
Of course, Princeton will face plenty of challengers to finish in the top three of its semifinal, which already includes Sprints champion Harvard, as well as Yale and Boston University. The Tigers fell to the Bulldogs during the regular season, but they reversed that result two weeks ago at the Eastern Sprints.
Wisconsin and Cornell joined the semifinal during the second repechage.
"You have to take it one step at a time," Hughes said. "A lot of boats, us included, have a lot of new speed, and you have to be ready for your best race. You can't take anything for granted."
The second varsity, which claimed a silver medal at Sprints and went undefeated against the rest of the Ivy League this season, defeated Navy by more than four seconds to win the third heat, and it will compete Saturday at 10:30 am in the first semifinal. Unlike the V8, they will get their first test at one of the Western powers, as California will join the Tigers in a showdown that also includes both Brown and Cornell.
The third varsity shared its opening heat with Washington, the defending V8 heavyweight national champion, and the Huskies earned the win by about five seconds. Princeton achieved its main goal, though; the Tigers topped Syracuse by more than five seconds and will compete in the 10 am semifinal against California, Brown and the three other boats that advances from the afternoon repechages.
The varsity four needed the afternoon repechage, but a two-second victory over Colgate assured it a spot in the first semifinal.
VARSITY EIGHT • HEAT #4
SECOND VARSITY EIGHT • HEAT #3
THIRD VARSITY EIGHT • HEAT #2