Junior stroke Will Downing was naturally happy following Princeton’s victory over both Harvard and Yale last weekend. It was the first time for any current member of the lightweight team to return the Goldthwait Cup to Princeton.
But he knows there is still much work to be done.
“Our race for the Goldthwait Cup was important for us because it demonstrated that the improvements we had made since our losses earlier in the season had begun to translate into speed,” junior William Downing said. “I, personally, do not put a lot of stock in the rankings in the lightweight league since so much can change from week to week, but I think that coming out on top against Harvard and Yale, who have both been very strong at all levels in recent history, helped to justify a lot of the changes we have been making in the past few weeks.”
One of the biggest changes has come in the early portions of the race. In Princeton’s two losses, including one it can avenge Saturday morning (more on this later), the Tigers found themselves trailing significantly by the 1000-meter mark. They nearly made up the whole deficit against Columbia, while top-ranked Cornell held Princeton off for a more comfortable win.
“After those races, it was clear that we needed to get off the line more quickly, but, more importantly, we realized that we needed to make a better shift into the middle of the race,” Dowing said. “Our start on Saturday was much more aggressive than it had been in the past, but was certainly not as fast as it could be. We have been focusing on developing a very strong rhythm and base speed and this paid dividends in our most recent race.
“Yale moved slightly ahead of us during the start and during the first 500 meters of the race, but we focused on staying long and powerful and were eventually able to move through them in the second half of the race,” he added. “We will continue to work on our starting sequence and will blend this with our tenacious base speed.”
Princeton, which moved to No. 2 in the latest rankings, has one more chance to compete against a top contender before the May 18 Sprints Championships. The Tigers will head to Overpeck Park to take on both No. 3 Columbia and No. 6 Delaware. Four weeks ago, Columbia topped Princeton by .1 of a second; the margin was so close that video replay was used just to check the overall winner.
While avenging that loss would be nice, the Tigers still have their eyes on Sprints. While Cornell will likely enter as favorites, a victory by any of the Top 5 teams would hardly be considered an upset. Thus, Princeton knows it needs to maximize every moment before it hits Lake Quinsigamond.
“A win on Saturday would be the perfect way to begin our last stretch of training before Eastern Sprints and we are fully aware of the importance of this weekend,” freshman Matthew Benstead said. “I am confident that we will do what we need to do in order to achieve this and make sure that we are the crew to beat come May 18.
“As we approach the Sprints there are still many areas that we need to sharpen up and hopefully we can show improvements in other aspects of the race as well,” he added.
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