All Princeton wanted was a chance. Thanks to four fantastic sessions in the 2013 Ivy League Championships, the Tigers will go into the final day with even more than a chance.
They'll have a lead.
Princeton heads into Saturday's final day of the Ivy League Championships with 953 team points, 33 more than reigning champion and unbeaten Harvard. There are seven events remaining in the competition, and Princeton already has a strong jump start in one of them (more on that later). You can watch all Saturday's final session by clicking on the link above, and you can also follow the live results both online and on your mobile device.
The Tigers got victories from Lisa Boyce and the 800 free relay, but they also got consistent strong swims during both the preliminary and finals session, which is the key to winning a championship event. Princeton prided itself on depth all season, and it has been that depth that has carried the first two days.
The finals session started off with a blazing 200 medley final, with three teams breaking the Ivy League record. Harvard took the event in 1:39.48, while Yale took second in 1:39.52.
Princeton, led by Boyce, senior Sarah Furgatch, freshman Morgan Karetnick and senior Carter Stephens, had a very strong performance and picked up third in 1:39.66. That time topped Yale by less than one second.
The 1000 was expected to be a big swing event for Harvard; while the Crimson did pick up points in the event, a pair of very strong swims before the finals session began sent two Tigers into the Top 8. Junior Maureen McCotter grabbed seventh in 9:57.25, while freshman India Boland took eighth in 9:59.00. Both swimmers cut more than 14 seconds off their seed times, and earned them key team points.
Yale freshman Eva Fabian took the event with a brilliant swim, going 9:46.08 to top the rest of the field by more than five seconds.
Harvard had gained over those first three events, but a trio of Tiger finalists extended the lead in the 100 fly. Yale senior Alex Forrester, one of the league's best all-around swimmers, won the event in 51.57, but the Princeton freshman duo of Nikki Larson (53.21) and Morgan Karetnick (54.14) went 2-3 in the final. Senior co-captain Carter Stephens split fifth in 54.29, and all three topped Harvard's lone finalist to give Princeton a 71.5-point lead.
Crimson junior Sara Li won the 200 free in 1:46.48 in an exciting three-way duel with Penn junior Shelby Fortin and Princeton senior Jillian Altenburger. Fortin took second in 1:46.67, while Altenburger added a third-place swim in 1:46.93. Freshman Elizabeth McDonald gave Princeton two in the finals and took seventh in 1:48.28.
Columbia went 1-2 in the breast, with Katie Meili continuing her strong weekend with a dominant victory in 58.44. The Tigers didn't have an 'A' finalist, but senior Sarah Furgatch made her 'B' swim count. She won the heat and took ninth in 1:03.11, while sophomore Emily Yu took 14th in 1:04.18.
Then it was Boyce's turn.
The junior won her fifth straight Ivy title, as well as her sixth overall, and claimed her third straight 100 back crown by topping teammate Sada Stewart with an Ivy League record time of 52.93. Stewart was also spectacular, topping two Harvard swimmers for second in 53.53. Princeton sophomore Shirley Wang also made the 'A' final and placed seventh in 55.61.
At that point, all heads turned to the diving well for the 3-meter consolation finals. Both Princeton and Harvard will have two divers apiece in the 'A' finals Saturday night, but the Tigers had an impressive 4-1 edge in consolation finals qualifiers. Princeton made the session count, as Emily Kaplan (307.10), Bryna Tsai (290.45) and Helen Zitkovsky (289.75) went 1-2-3 in the 'B' final. Harvard took fourth, and Princeton's Courtney Fieldman finished eighth with 221.80 points.
That consolation finals will be provide a 40-point advantage for Princeton over Harvard, though those points won't appear in the team scores until the conclusion of the 'A' finals, the second-to-last event of the weekend. Princeton was a +49 in consolations, though Harvard added nine points in bonus finals (17th through 24th place).
Princeton ended Friday night in style, as the quartet of Altenburger, Larson, McDonald and Stewart blitzed the field in the 800 free relay to win in 7:12.64. Harvard held the lead through the first half of the meet, thanks to a strong start from Li, but McDonald gave Princeton the edge at the 500 mark. From there, the freshman duo proved too strong and sent the Tiger fans into an uproar.
Saturday's preliminaries will begin at 11 am, and finals will begin at 6 pm. Preliminary events will include the 200 back, the 100 free, the 200 breast and the 200 fly, while the finals will include those four events, the 1650, the 3-meter finals and the 400 free relay.