Princeton, which went 9-1 in the regular season and won its 13th Ivy League title by open water two weeks ago, made a hard charge out of Lane 5 in its final race together and led the field at both the 500 and 1000 marks.
California, which placed second to Ohio State in the team championship competition, made its big move in the third split, and it would be a golden one. The Bears turned a 2.8-second deficit into the slimmest of leads, and it would hold off Princeton in a winning time of 6:21.43."It was an incredible race," von Kienbusch recipient Heidi Robbins said. "To set the pace for the field was truly awesome. Of course we go out there to win with everything that we have, but I think we put it all out there with a lot of guts. I am proud of how we raced."
The Tigers were not about to give the second spot up, despite late pushes from both Ohio State and Virginia. Princeton finished in the silver position in 6:22.60, while Ohio State finished third in 6:23.20.
“It was an amazing race,” said a thrilled head coach Lori Dauphiny afterwards. “They led the pace, and it was a very courageous performance. They really performed when it counted. In general, it was just an awesome finish.”
The second-place finish in the NCAA grand final is an incredible accomplishment for Princeton. While both the 2006 and 2011 varsity eights won gold, only one other Tiger V8 (2005) finished second overall.
The victory also moved Princeton to third place in the team standings with 112 points, which matches the program’s second-best team finish at the NCAA Championships. The Tigers finished second in the inaugural event in 1997, but their best finishes since then were third-place ones in both 2006 and 2010.
Now you can add 2013 to that list.
“I give all of our rowers so much credit for this,” Dauphiny said. “I told them that it takes all of them to achieve this, and I hope the recognize that.”
The second varsity made a brilliant final sprint to qualify for the grand final Saturday afternoon, but all of that expended energy may have been costly during Sunday’s grand final. Princeton placed sixth in 6:33.46, though simply by qualifying for the final, it managed to add 34 points to the team total.
Ohio State was clearly the strongest boat in the field, and it led by more than two seconds at the midway point of the race. Both California and Brown tried to make a move, but the Buckeyes comfortably held both off. Princeton was in a battle with both USC and Yale, but the Tigers didn’t have enough in the final sprint to move past either boat.
The varsity four got the morning started successfully, overcoming a tough opening split to move past three boats and claim second place in the petite final. California led after the opening split by about 1.5 seconds, and it kept building on that advantage until an open water victory in 7:14.83.
Princeton, however, was in comeback mode after sitting fifth after 500 meters. The Tigers’ second split was better than any outside of California, and they moved from fifth to second at that point. Princeton built on that lead in the third split, and then withstood a hard charge from Notre Dame to hold second in 7:19.71.
"Both the second varsity and the fours did their best today," Dauphiny said. "I'm proud of the effort they put in today and this whole season."
There were members of the Class of 2013 in each of the three boats, and that class will graduate Tuesday with Top-4 finishes in every NCAA Championship regatta during their careers. They also won two Ivy League championships, three team titles at Ivies/Eastern Sprints, and both Hamrick and Robbins were in the 2011 NCAA champion varsity eight.
"This senior class is tremendous," Robbins said. "There was leadership across all the boats and a dynamic group of personalities. Each brought something new to the boats, and it was the combination that was powerful. I will miss tremendously this team which has meant so much to me."
“This class is exceptional,” Dauphiny said. “This is really nice ending for them, and they worked so hard for this. They will be greatly missed.”
VARSITY EIGHT GRAND FINAL
Ohio State 6:23.20
SECOND VARSITY EIGHT GRAND FINAL
Ohio State 6:27.87
VARSITY FOUR PETITE FINAL
Notre Dame 7:21.19
TEAM POINT TOTALS
1 – Ohio State, 126 pts
2 – California, 124 pts
3 – Princeton, 112 pts
4 – USC, 110 pts
5 – Virginia, 108 pts