Heavyweights Claim Two Medals, Including V8 Bronze, At 2014 Sprints
The fifth-ranked Princeton heavyweights returned to the medal dock at the Eastern Sprints for the first time since 2011, claiming bronze in the varsity eight final. It was one of two medals claimed during Sunday's finals, while each of Princeton's top four boats earned at least a Top-4 finish.
The varsity eight entered its championship final seeded third, and it moved past top-seeded Yale during the 2000-meter showdown on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. The East's two dominant programs over the last five years, however, held off Princeton and staged their own battle for gold.
"We put together some really strong races leading up to Sprints, and it showed up in the heats," head coach Greg Hughes said in reference to Princeton posting the fastest heat in the morning. "In the choppier conditions later, in a pressure-packed final with some younger guys, we probably could have executed a little better. But I'm excited, and I think they are too. We got a medal, and we'll take it. I know we aren't satisfied, but I'm proud of what we did today. We can take that with us and learn for the IRA."
Second-seeded Harvard repeated as EARC/Ivy League champion in 5:27.277, while fourth-seeded Brown made a strong push for silver in 5:28.998. Princeton, which defeated Brown two weeks ago to reclaim the Content Cup, had its hands full in holding off a strong Northeastern team for the final spot on the medal dock.
Princeton would get the job done, though.
The Tigers finished in 5:32.411, about 1.5 seconds faster than the reigning bronze medalist. Last season, Northeastern topped Princeton by more than five seconds for bronze, so the Tigers were pleased to flip that pairing and move back into the top three.
"We were definitely happy to be back in the medals after two years of being fourth, and it is good to have confirmation that our hard work is paying off and we are heading in the right direction," sophomore Martin Barakso said. "In terms of the execution, we had a good race overall but we didn't have the strong start that we know we are capable of."
"It was a great race," Hughes said. "We were right there in the thick of it. There were four or five of us who separated out early on and went together for a stretch. Harvard did a good job getting themselves out and handling some choppy conditions."
The second varsity continued its impressive season, claiming silver in the tightest-packed of all the grand finals. The Princeton 2V came into the weekend undefeated in the Ivy League, and it left Sprints that was as well. Northeastern held off Princeton in 5:37.781, but the Tiger time of 5:38.837 held off both third-place Navy and fourth-place Brown by less than one second for the silver medal.
"It was a great race," Hughes said. "Awesome race. That entire race was no more than a length between all the boats. They held their ground to do what they did."
The third varsity finished in 5:46.739 to place fourth in its final, more than four seconds off Boston University's bronze medal pace. The 4V finished second in the petite final in 5:58.428, less than 3.5 seconds behind Northeastern.
"I thought it was good racing," Hughes said. "They raced well, raced hard. I'm pretty pleased with the way they raced in all the races today."
Princeton will now spend its next two weeks preparing for the IRA national championships, held May 30-June 1 at Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J. The regatta will bring the nation's two highest-ranked boats, Washington and California, to New Jersey to show down with several of the boats that competed Sunday for the Sprints crown.
And if Sunday was any indication, it should be a wild three days.
"We are really motivated and pumped for IRA," Barakso said. "Sprints is a very emotional race, but the IRA is what really matters in the end. Because it is in our backyard and during Reunions weekend there will be a lot of alumni there watching, so we are all hoping to show them our best. We know we still have our best performance ahead of us and we are all focused on making sure that we deliver it at IRA."
Varsity Eight • Ivy League Championship
1) Harvard 5:27.277
2) Brown 5:28.998
3) Princeton 5:32.411
4) Northeastern 5:33.972
5) Boston University 5:34.648
6) Yale 5:35.498
7) Cornell 5:37.906
Second Varsity Eight
1) Northeastern 5:37.781
2) Princeton 5:38.837
3) Navy 5:39.733
4) Brown 5:39.811
5) Harvard 5:41.170
6) Boston University 5:42.769
Third Varsity Eight
1) Brown 5:37.250
2) Northeastern 5:38.441
3) Boston University 5:42.692
4) Princeton 5:46.739
5) Navy 5:48.028
5) Cornell 5:48.028
Fourth Varsity Eight
1) Northeastern 5:55.030
2) Princeton A 5:58.428
3) Dartmouth 6:00.452
4) Harvard 6:01.366
5) Holy Cross 6:05.943
6) Princeton B 6:36.808