There is a lineup somewhere in the boathouse that Greg Hughes will send out to the EARC and IRA national championships. There are eight rowers, currently pushing themselves, who will try to win Princeton’s first Ivy League title since 2006.
Hughes doesn’t know the combination. And right now, he doesn’t care.
“At this point, I’m not trying to find an eight,” said Hughes, entering his third season as the head coach of the Princeton heavyweights. “I am mixing combinations. I want to see them in competition. We graduated a solid corps, but we have some very strong kids back.”
Hughes had a good idea of just how competitive his group was, based on an exciting 2011 postseason. It started at the EARC Sprints, when the Princeton V8 pushed past Wisconsin late in the grand final to grab the silver medal. The Tigers finished less than two seconds behind Harvard, marking the second time last season that they finished within two seconds of the Eastern champion.
Three weeks later, at the IRA national championships, Princeton put each of its three boats (V8, 2V8, F8) into its respective grand finals. That marked the first time in a decade that three Tiger boats raced for national titles, and it showed the great depth that the program had built.
While a talented cast of seniors does depart, the freshmen from the fourth-place boat at nationals should bolster the varsity depth. Though Hughes is far from putting any names in his lineup, he does like the attitude he is seeing from both the experienced and inexperienced competitors.
“With this group, there is a little more green, but they’re all game,” Hughes said. “It’s good to have the ability to mix and match right now. We have some good days and some bad days. The guys showed some pretty good results in the fall, but this is a super competitive league, and there are talented boats out there.”
With all of the youth that could become big factors in the varsity eight, Hughes is reliant on senior captain Ian Silveira to provide guidance. He hasn’t been the least bit disappointed.
“Ian has done a great job as captain,” Hughes said. “He is a classic case of leading by example. Nobody here will work harder than him. He shows the younger guys what it takes to be successful.”
Silveira also got a taste of international success this past summer. He rowed for the U.S. 4x at the U23 World Championships and helped the boat to a historic fourth-place finish. A pair of his teammates also traveled to Amsterdam for the U23s; junior Mike Evans rowed for Great Britain, while sophomore Tim Masters rowed for Australia.
Both Evans and Silveira were part of the eight that earned silver at the EARC championships, and while Hughes is keeping every seat open right now, there is a good chance that both will be looking for another shot at the varsity eight grand final at the 2012 Sprints. But who else will be in the boat is a mystery right now, and a lineup in early April could look different than one in late April, or even the middle of May.
“When it happens,” Hughes said of finding the right lineup, “it happens.”
His team will assuredly get tested throughout the season, which begins March 31 with a home race against Georgetown and Syracuse. The Tigers will compete for both the Childs Cup and the Content Cup at home, and they will take on reigning Ivy champion Harvard on the Charles April 14.
“Harvard has put itself out there as the crew to beat,” Hughes said. “When you look at everything they have done recently, they’re probably not going to be slow this year.”
But Princeton shouldn’t be slow either, even if it takes a little while to find the right lineup, and the right chemistry. In each of the last two years, the Tigers have found a lineup to finish with a silver medal at Sprints. They expect to find that same type of successful lineup, and they have spent the preseason pushing themselves to make sure they can stand one step higher on the podium.
The 2012 season will open Saturday morning on the Bud Smith Memorial Race Course on Lake Carnegie when Princeton takes on both Georgetown and Syracuse.
Saturday's schedule is as follows:
9:00 • 1V
9:10 • 1F
9:20 • 2V/3V
9:30 • 2F
There is a link atop the page for the new "Information Central" page
for men's heavyweight crew. It is a one-stop home for all interested in the
program, and it includes several links related to both the past and
present of Princeton heavyweight rowing.
Included in the past highlights are all-time letterwinners and
results, all-time results in Princeton's annual "Cup" competitions, and
Princeton's history in the postseason, the Olympics, and the Royal
Present links include those to the roster, schedule and results, as
well as to the team site, the official men's lightweight Twitter feed, and
several other aspects of the program.
The link to the Information Central page will remain in the gray bar at the top of the men's heavyweight page.