Greg Hughes ’96, who led the Princeton men’s lightweight crew to 2009
championships at Eastern Sprints, the IRA nationals and the Henley
Royal Regatta, will begin his fourth season as the head coach of the Princeton heavyweights when the 2012-13 season begins.
In his first three seasons, Hughes has led Princeton to an 17-8 record, including an 11-7 mark in the Ivy League. Princeton has medaled twice at Eastern Sprints and hasn't finished below fourth. The Tigers made the 2011 IRA national final and placed sixth; last year, after being edged out of the national final, Princeton battled back to win the IRA petite final.
Princeton went 7-1 in the 2011 regular season, and it sprinted past Wisconsin for the silver medal in the final stretch of the EARC Championships grand final. Three weeks later, Princeton put all three of its boats (V8, 2V, F8) into their respective IRA grand finals; that hadn't happened for the Orange and Black in a decade.
are delighted to announce that Greg Hughes '96 will become the new head
coach of heavyweight rowing,” director of athletics Gary Walters said of his hiring. “Greg established his bona
fides with his successful stint as our lightweight coach, culminating
in this past year's team confronting every challenge and winning every
race. The rowing program is fortunate to have such a strong line-up of
men’s and women’s coaches representing Princeton at the Shea Rowing
Center, a Mecca for collegiate rowing.”
It didn't take Hughes long to make an impact on the Tiger heavies. One season after Princeton finished 13th at the Eastern Sprints, Princeton earned a silver medal at the 2010 Championships and battled eventual champion Harvard for most of the grand final.
Hughes, a former Ivy
League and national champion rower with the Princeton men’s
lightweights, took over as head coach of the men’s lightweight crew in
2006, following the retirement of his former coach, Joe Murtaugh. In
his first year, Hughes turned a team that had gone 2-7 in consecutive
seasons into a program that went 5-3 and earned a bronze medal at
nationals. He'll enter this coming season with a 13-4 record.
In each of the next three seasons, Princeton’s
winning percentage would improve, and the Orange and Black would win at
least one medal at either the EARC or IRA championships. In 2008, the
Tigers rose to No. 1 in the national rankings, won its first Goldthwait
Cup over Harvard and Yale since 1999 and placed second at the Eastern
All of that would be an appetizer for what was to
come in 2009. The preseason No. 1 team in the nation, Princeton
recorded its first perfect season since 1999 and won each
regular-season race by at least three seconds. The Tigers went to the
Eastern championships and won its first EARC/Ivy League title since
2003 and followed with its first IRA national championship since 1998.
It was only the fourth time in program history the men’s lightweights
swept both postseason races.
But that wasn’t the end of the
story. Princeton went on to the prestigious Royal Henley Regatta and
competed in the Temple Challenge Cup. After three wins and a
hard-fought victory over Neurus (Netherlands) in the semifinals,
Princeton took on the EARC champion Brown freshman boat in the final.
The Tigers held off the heavyweight program by ¾ of a length to win the
Henley crown and become only the second American collegiate lightweight
program to win at Henley since 1973. For Hughes, it was his second
career victory at Henley.
“It’s an honor to become Princeton's
head heavyweight coach,” Hughes said after his hiring in 2009. “Princeton’s boathouse is very
special to me and mostly thanks to Curtis. I am excited that I have
been given the opportunity to further Curtis's legacy.”
Hughes had prior experience with this program, as he once served as the assistant/novice coach
for the Tiger men’s heavyweights. His freshman boat won the Eastern
Sprints in 1998 and 2003 and went undefeated in both the 2002 and 2003
regular seasons. Hughes’ squad finished the 2003 season in grand style,
claiming the Eastern Sprint title, the IRA national title and, finally,
the Temple Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta in England. Six of
those rowers were in Princeton’s first varsity boat that won the Head
of the Charles, the Eastern Sprints and the Henley Royal Regatta in the
In eight years as the head freshman coach at
Princeton, his boat was a perfect 16 for 16 in reaching grand finals at
both the Eastern Sprints and IRAs.
In 1999, Hughes co-coached
the U.S. lightweight men’s 2- and the heavyweight 2+ at the World
Championships, with the latter winning the gold. He co-coached the U.S.
men’s eight and the men’s pair at the Under-23 World Championships in
2000, where the eight won a bronze medal. The next year, Hughes
assisted Murtaugh in coaching the U.S. lightweight eight that won
bronze at the World Championships. In 2002, Hughes coached the Under-23
men’s eight to a gold and the pair to a bronze at the World
Championships. He also led the U.S. 4+ to a bronze medal at the 2004
World Championships. In 2005, Hughes coached the US men’s 4- which
finished 4th at the Under-23 Worlds, and he coached the U.S. men's 4+ to gold at the 2007 World Championships.
Hughes was a four-year
lightweight rower under Murtaugh. A 1996 Princeton graduate, Hughes was
undefeated in all of his four regular seasons and won two Eastern
Sprints titles. He was an All-Ivy League rower on the 1994 and 1996
national championship lightweight crews. He served as team captain in
1996 and won the Gordon G. Sikes Award for the greatest contribution to
Princeton lightweight crew. He would go on to be an alternate for both
the 1997 and 1998 lightweight U.S. national teams.
replaced Jordan, who won a program record 129 races with the Tiger
heavyweights and added 55 wins with the open crew. Jordan won seven Ivy
League and three national championships at Princeton over his time with
“Most of what I have learned as a coach has come
from Curtis,” Hughes said. “He is a leader, he is a mentor, but most of
all, he is a great person. There is a selflessness in everything that
he does. He has always made sound decisions as a coach and he has
treated everyone with honesty and integrity. He is competitive and he
produces winners, but win or not, Curtis and his team act with class
when the racing is through. These traits have become a part of the
legacy of Princeton Rowing. Building on that legacy will be a very
special and rewarding challenge and it is an honor to have been given