Heavies Cap Strong Season With Best IRA V8 Finish Since '06, Silver For 2V8
The Princeton heavyweights made a gallant charge at the medal dock in the 2014 IRA national championship final; though the Tigers barely missed out, they helped complete the program's best IRA weekend since 2006 and indicate a bright future ahead for the program.
The varsity eight finished the championship final in 5:43.715, about 1.6 seconds behind California for the bronze medal. Washington (5:37.113) continued its reign atop the sport, while Brown (5:39.626) fought out of a tight middle pack to move past California and take the silver.
Princeton wasn't able to make a move on Washington, but it did earn its first victory over Harvard this season, and it caused California some dramatic final strokes during ideal conditions on Mercer Lake.
"I would say that was our best race of the year," head coach Greg Hughes said. "The guys executed all the parts of that race plan they wanted to execute, and they did it well. They stayed tough, and they were able to fight back in that last 500. It's the best result at an IRA since 2006. It's tough to walk away from the IRAs without hardware, but the performance doesn't go unnoticed."
Nor did Princeton go unnoticed in the race, as the Tigers did mount a late charge at the medal dock. The two Western powers controlled the first 1,000 meters, while Harvard held an early edge over both Brown and Princeton. Both Ivy boats were able to get past the Crimson, and Brown carried it past California as well.
"I thought we executed a great race," sophomore Patrick Eble said. "That's all you can ask for out there. We had our best piece. The other boats were really fast, and it made for awesome racing out there."
"My hat's off to Washington for a pretty impressive race," Hughes said. "For me, more impressive was Brown, as that was a stand-up effort from them. That's our fifth time racing them this year. We've beaten them, but they've won the big ones."
While the varsity eight had its best finish since 2006, the second varsity earned a spot on the medal dock to complete a tremendous postseason. After a silver at Sprints, the Tigers pushed a great pace in the 2V grand final. They weren't able to catch California over the final 1,000, but they held off Washington, which had won every 2V IRA grand final since 2007.
"The 2V race was the best race at a championship by one of our crews in six or seven years," Hughes said. "That was a big field and a really gutsy race. All the credit goes to Spencer Washburn on that. He's the one who has been working with them. He's leaving us now and moving on to his next step, and there is nothing he deserved more than an IRA medal."
"I think we are as pleased as we could be with the execution of today's race," freshman stroke Nick Mead said. "At the Eastern Sprints final we were in 5th place at the 1000 meter mark and put together a solid finishing half of the race to take silver, but didn't sprint through Northeastern. The Eastern Sprints proved that we had a fast sprint, but we wanted to produce a starting 1000 meters that would put us in position to medal at the IRA.
"Spencer emphasized a quick, clean start and a powerful middle thousand in our practices leading up to this weekend, and it paid off in today's final," Mead added. "We preformed very well in the first half of the race and executed our best race of the season when we needed it most."
The third varsity also made the grand final, placing sixth in 6:04.807, while the varsity four finished sixth in the petite final in 6:49.301.
The entire weekend was a positive experience for a strong number of heavyweight rowers who will return for the 2015 season. While the group loses both the talent and, perhaps as importantly, leadership of the Class of 2014, Eble believes the positive momentum can continue.
"I'm really excited," he said. "I can't wait to get back to work with the guys next year. I think we have a great class coming in. I think these results show our program is on the rise, and I'm really excited to be a Tiger in the future."
"We are losing a strong senior class, and their leadership will certainly be missed," Mead added. "But the culture of hard work that these seniors established over the last four years won't leave when they graduate."
VARSITY EIGHT GRAND FINAL
SECOND VARSITY EIGHT GRAND FINAL
THIRD VARSITY EIGHT GRAND FINAL
VARSITY FOUR PETITE FINAL