Men's Lightweights Ready To Chase Eastern, IRA Titles As 2012 Season Opens
While his young children eat their breakfast next to him, men’s lightweight head coach Marty Crotty can often be found with pen and paper, constantly jotting down notes, potential lineups and any other hypothetical he can devise.
He hopes these mornings will ultimately be the Breakfasts of Champions, but he knows there is plenty of work to be done first.
Crotty is in his third season as the Princeton head coach, but this one currently has a far different feel than the start of the other two. In both 2010 and 2011, Crotty had the reigning national champion; in both years, he also had the majority of that championship boat still on the roster.
Last year, on the path to an attempted third straight national championship, Crotty felt confident in the lineup he sent and challenged his crew to be the best it could become. Ultimately, that challenge may have been a step too much, as the team missed the medal stand at both Eastern Sprints and IRAs.
“I shouldered a lot of the blame from last year,” Crotty said during the 2012 preseason. “I think I let the training go a little too far. I just don’t think the guys were as fresh as they needed to be at Sprints and IRAs. They still raced their hearts out at the end, but they just didn’t have the ability to pull the trigger when they needed it.”
While the conclusion of the 2011 season was disappointing, it could also provide a learning experience that will serve Princeton well moving forward. Princeton will open its 2012 schedule this weekend on the Potomac River against both Navy and MIT in the Joseph Murtaugh Cup regatta. A full schedule for the weekend can be found at the bottom of this preview.
Crotty has been pleased with the fitness work throughout the preseason, but he has been careful to keep it on a schedule where the team will peak when it matters most.
“We have 4-6 weeks of good fitness still to go,” Crotty said. “We had a good performance at the Crash-P’s, which was a good sign.”
While monitoring the fitness work, Crotty is also in the unusual position of having to find the right combination for his varsity eight. Over the last two years, there may have been a seat or two up for grabs, but the heart of his boat could be written in ink before the opening race. This year, Crotty believes there are 11-12 rowers in contention, which should drive the competition level up throughout the preseason.
“The mystery now is whether any combinations will click technically,” he said.
While 2011 William Winston Roper Trophy recipient Robin Prendes served as the stroke for three years and led a talented class of seniors who left the program last summer, there is plenty of talent and leadership returning in 2012.
Leading that group is captain Gianthomas Volpe, a two-year starter in the V8 and a member of the 2010 national championship crew.
“Volpe has been performing well,” Crotty said. “He had a nice stretch over the winter while training with the Italian U-23 team. He is as fit as ever, and he is very consistent.”
Classmate Steve Cutler and junior Tyler Nase, both of whom were in the V8 last year, raced for the U.S. LM4- at the U-23 World Championships. Nase set a Crash-P record during this preseason and could be one of the driving forces for Princeton this season.
Senior Alex Rubert also has championship experience, as he was a member of the 2010 EARC and IRA-winning varsity eight. He wasn’t in the top boat last year, but his tireless work ethic has put him right back into the mix this year.
“Whatever the lineup ends up being, we’ll have guys who know how to race, who know how to win, and have every reason to be confident heading into the season,” Crotty said.
That is one thing that hasn’t changed for Princeton, which will open its season March 24 at Navy in a race for the Joe Murtaugh Cup. The Tigers will still have the highest of aspirations against a strong lightweight field. Princeton will host three weekends of competition, including the home opener March 31 in the Fosburgh Cup showdown with Georgetown and Columbia.
What has changed is that the bullseye and the immediate outside expectations will be more heavily placed on the likes of Harvard and Yale. That will allow Crotty to test lineups and/or let the chemistry develop as the team gains speed on a weekly basis.
He has seen teams peak at the right time, and he has seen them peak too soon. He knows what it will take to get Princeton in the best position to win at both Easterns and IRAs, and he is looking forward to seeing his squad go forward as the hunter, instead of the hunted, in 2012.
The 2012 season will open on the Potomac River Saturday morning in the renewal of the Joseph Murtaugh Cup competition. Murtaugh was a long-time head coach of the Princeton men's lightweights, and he led the Tigers to four EARC titles.
Saturday's schedule is as follows:
7:00 • 2V
7:20 • 1V-Murtaugh Cup
7:40 • 1F
8:00 • 2F
8:20 • 3V
9:00 • Trophy Presentation
There is a link atop the page for the new "Information Central" page for men's lightweight crew. It is a one-stop home for all interested in the program, and it includes several links related to both the past and present of Princeton lightweight rowing.
Included in the past highlights are all-time letterwinners and results, all-time results in Princeton's annual "Cup" competitions, and Princeton's history in the postseason, the Olympics, and the Royal Henley Regatta.
Present links include those to the roster, schedule and results, as well as to the team site, the official men's lightweight Twitter feed, and several other aspects of the program.
The link to the Information Central page will remain in the gray bar at the top of the men's lightweight page.