Princeton Brings Talented Youth, Championship Experience, Into 2013 Ivies
There are seven teams in the Ivy League who will be plenty happy to see the Princeton Class of 2012 sitting in the stands this weekend. After four straight seasons of leading the Tigers to Ivy crowns, the best that group can do now is stand and cheer.
It's what their replacements can do, though, that will play a major factor in determining the 2013 Ivy League Championship.
The new Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center on the campus of Brown University will serve as the host for this weekend's championship meet, which will be held Thursday through Saturday. Preliminaries will begin at 11 am, and finals will start at 6 pm. All finals sessions will be streamed live for free.
While all eight teams will be looking for their best weekends of the season, the championship is likely going to come down to the dominant duo in Ivy League swimming and diving over the last two decades, Princeton and Harvard.
The Tigers have won four straight league titles, as well as six of the last seven, though Harvard has been the top team in the league so far this season. The Crimson is unbeaten in dual meets, including a 200-153 win over Princeton at H-Y-P, and has been ranked inside the Top 20 late in the season.
Princeton, on the other hand, was happy to see that calendar switch from February to March. After dropping duals to Harvard and Columbia and seeing a meet postponed due to snow, the Tigers now have their full attention on the upcoming championship meet. Every returning member of this program knows what it feels like to celebrate a title, and the upperclassmen have very fond memories of the thrilling 5.5-point victory in Harvard's Blodgett Pool two years ago.
As for the Princeton Class of 2016, they just want to earn that feeling for the first time this weekend. While it's unfair to expect them to immediately replace the highly decorated Class of 2012, they will need to have a major performance to help Princeton knock off this talented Harvard squad.
What should you expect from this weekend? Swings of momentum, like a pendulum. Back. Forth. Back. Forth.
Both Princeton and Harvard figure to have some events in which they make the huge move, and others they simply hope to neutralize their opponent's move. The team that accomplishes both best will leave with both a trophy and a celebratory leap into Brown's new pool.
The sprint free events have both Princeton and Harvard representatives coming in with several of the top times in the Ivy League. Harvard's Oliver Lee has the best 50 and 100 times so far, though Princeton's underclassman trio of Harrison Wagner, Brooks Powell and Jeremy Wong could all compete for big scores in both events.
Freshman Sandy Bole is another threat in the 100, though he comes in with the league's best time in the 200 (1:36.79).
As the distances grow, Princeton will look towards the duo of Paul Nolle and Zach Ridout to help offset a powerful Crimson group. Nolle swept all three (500, 1000 and the mile) last year, and he currently has the Ivy's fourth-best time in the mile (15:28.03). Ridout is actually one spot higher in the mile (15:26.73), and he is also sixth in the 1000.
One stroke where you will see both youth and experience for Princeton is the back. Senior Kaspar Raigla has been an 'A' finalist in both the 100 and 200 back every year at the Ivy Championships, and he won the 100 title during his sophomore season, when Princeton needed every point possible to hold off Harvard.
Freshman En-Wei Hu-Van Wright currently has the league's best time in the 100 (48.20) and the second-best time in the 200 (1:45.37). Sophomore Michael Strand has the second-fastest time in the 100 (48.55), while classmate Connor Maher has the fastest in the 200 (1:44.68). Maher is especially ready for the weekend after being forced to miss the 2012 Championships due to illness.
Sophomore Connor Jager also has Top 8 times in both the 100 and 200.
The breaststroke is another event that could see a cast of Princeton freshmen. Byron Sanborn has the second-fastest time in the 100 (54.24) and the third-fastest in the 200 (1:58.78), while Jack Pohlmann (55.09/1:58.88) is fourth in both events. Junior Daniel Hasler was an 'A' finalist in both events last year, while freshman Teo D'Alessandro is ranked sixth in the 100 (55.75).
Raigla bring the league's third-fastest time in the 100 fly (48.69), while Powell is fourth (48.71) and Strand is eighth (49.08). All three will compete for spots in the 'A' final, while freshman Marco Bove (1:47.68) and sophomore Oliver Bennett (1:48.14) figure to be strong contenders in the 200. Bennett finished as the Ivy League runner-up in the 200 last year.
Harvard's Chuck Katis and Dartmouth's Nejc Zupan are the favorites in the 200 IM, but Princeton could make that event a big one on the first day with multiple Ivy finalists. A quartet of freshmen (Bole, Sanborn, Hu-Van Wright and D'Alessandro) are all currently ranked third through sixth in the league right now, with all four posting times under 1:49.
With a meet expected to be very close, diving could play a huge role. Senior Stevie Vines leads a strong group here; he placed second on both boards at the 2012 Championships, and he was named the 2011 Ivy League Championships Diver of the Meet.