Open Women Head To Cooper River To Compete In 2014 Ivy League Championships
It’s been a long time, but the Princeton open rowing team will enter Sunday’s Ivy League championship as a contender — as opposed to the favorite — for the first time in more than five years.
Everybody loves a perfect regular season, but this Tiger squad opened the year with a loss to Brown. Since then, the Bears have catapulted to the top of the national rankings, while Princeton has quietly built its own speed and developed into a true challenger for its 12th Ivy League championship.
And being a hunter, instead of the hunted, can often be the ideal mindset to take to Sprints. Chase somebody else, instead of them all chasing you.
“The past two weeks have been solid,” senior coxswain Annie Prasad said before the upcoming Ivy League Championships, which will be held Sunday at Cooper River in Pennsauken, N.J. “We’ve made some gains that I think will make this weekend an exciting fight.”
Prasad is one of four members of the varsity eight who left the field at the 2013 Ivy League Championships to win the league title and earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. You can follow the racing via the live results and live video links above. Please note that the live video will be part of the Ivy League Digital Network (subscription required), and the video will be of the finals session only.
Another member is classmate Kelsey Reelick, the only member of the boat who was also part of the 2011 Ivy League and NCAA champion varsity eight. Reelick, whose sophomore sister Erin sits in the 6-seat, has spent most of the season as the V8 stroke.
“Kelsey is a tenacious stroke, with great boat feel,” Prasad said. “She, along with the other senior rowers in the boat, has stepped up tremendously, especially in terms of having high standards for each practice and piece. Aside from raw talent, of which she has a lot, I think that is what makes her such a driving force in making our boat move forward.”
Reelick took over at stroke in April, meaning that her lone race in a different seat was the March 29 showdown against Brown. The Bears came away with a win by 3.2 seconds, and they haven’t lost since. Though that race will be more than seven weeks removed when the two race for the Ivy title, head coach Lori Dauphiny believes that Princeton still learned some pertinent information from that race.
“We learned that Brown is strong, and that they are fast,” Dauphiny said. “When they have done well in their regular season, they have also done well in their championships. We know they will be formidable competitors, but you don’t even know about the other boats. They are all increasing speed as well.”
The first time Princeton will race in a six-boat format will be the grand final, and Dauphiny has more than enough experience to know that her team better watch out for more than just Brown. In that way, she can feel confident in the experience of Prasad, who has coxed Princeton to an Ivy League title and a silver medal at the NCAA Championships.
“A six-boat race is a whole new ball game,” Prasad said. “With such a large field, there’s always movement, and you have to be ready for it. Having culminated each of the past three seasons in a six-boat race, I am extremely excited to challenge myself and the boat; anything can happen when there are six boats across, and that’s why we love it.”
The varsity eight grand final is slated for a 4:15 start, but it is one of six boats that is hoping to earn medals during the afternoon. Princeton is sending four eights and a pair of fours to the Ivy Championships, including a second varsity that went 10-0 during the regular season. That group won’t be simply satisfied with its regular season, though; last year, the Tiger 2V was also unbeaten, but it got upset by both Brown and Harvard in the grand final.
While the second varsity has established itself as the team to beat, the varsity four ‘A’ is one of the rising boats in the league. It enters as the fourth seed, but it has won three races since nearly pulling off a wild comeback win over Yale. The varsity four joins the rest of the field in helping determine the overall team champion, which Princeton has won both years since the Ivy League Championships officially began in 2012, but only the varsity eight winner will guarantee its school an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.