The Princeton men's lightweight rowing team won't need any reminders of just how close the Eastern Sprints final could be. A regular season filled with close finishes ended Saturday with another narrow loss to Columbia. Now the fun really begins.
Princeton finished its regular season with a 7-3 record after splitting a three-boat regatta Saturday morning at Overpeck Park. The Tigers fell by 2.2 seconds to No. 3 Columbia (5:53.2), while they topped sixth-ranked Delaware by .8 of a second.
"It was a tough day today," junior Bowen Peard said. "Columbia was the faster crew. They got off the line very quickly, taking most or all of their margin in the first 300 meters. We came out pretty flat in our start, and let them get away. After that first 500, we made a few moves to get back into the race, but Columbia responded each time and controlled the race the whole way down the course."
It was a similar story to their first meeting, when Columbia built a big edge over the first half of the race and then held off the Tigers down the stretch. That race came down to a video replay and .1 of a second, but the Lions left both races with a victory.
The two boats will meet again on Lake Quinsigamond in two weeks at Eastern Sprints, where the Ivy League championship will be determined. The top five boats in the national poll are all in the Ivy League, including top-ranked Cornell, the lone unbeaten varsity eight in the league.
"Sprints will be very competitive at the top, as it always is," Peard said. "The top four or five crews are within a few seconds of each other, and small gains in speed will make the difference between first and fourth. I think we are in a good place to work on our race plan, picking up a second here and a second there.
"I'm enthusiastic about this upcoming training block, and although today was a tough loss, I still believe we are in a good place to contend for gold in two weeks," he added.
While the varsity eight left Lake Overpeck disappointed, Princeton did leave with victories in three of four races. The highlight came in the second varsity race, where Princeton finished an undefeated regular season with a nearly two-second win over the Lions.
"It represents that the overall depth is strong," head coach Marty Crotty said. "The 2V always represents our depth. That boat hasn't been the same week to week, but they continue to get it done. For them to beat everybody they have raced against is a great accomplishment. I am really excited for them."
Princeton also got victories in the 3V and 4V, and Crotty was pleased with how the overall group looks as it gets closer to the postseason.
"We faced some injuries, but the team continues to show depth," he said. "We are rotating some guys through to plug injury holes, and the guys are doing a great job. We have a lot of time to sharpen things up and do better at Sprints. Our 3V and 4V are really racing well right now. Our depth is strong, and everybody needs to continue focusing on getting faster now."
Second Varsity Eight
Third Varsity Eight
Fourth Varsity Eight