Preparing for the top-ranked team in the country, the Princeton open rowing team believed it had gained enough speed to make for a dramatic 2000-meter showdown in the Ivy League championships. The Tigers were wrong.
They gained so much speed that all of the drama was behind them.
Princeton won its second straight Ivy League championship, and its 12th overall, in stunning fashion Sunday at Cooper River in Pennsauken, N.J. The Tigers never trailed and closed out their third title in four years in a time of 6:15.412, an Ivy League course record, while Brown (6:19.722) held off Harvard for second.
"They did a really nice job," said head coach Lori Dauphiny, who has guided Princeton to six Ivy League championships. "They were on a mission. They did a really nice job handling the conditions. I really don’t know what to say. I knew they had something in them, but I didn’t know they could pull off a course record.
“I believed in them, and I am really proud of them," she added.
The Tigers were determined to grab an early lead, and they did so with incredible efficiency. The call at the 500-meter mark was about a length, and it grew to open water soon after. Brown’s hopes for a late push never materialized, as the Tigers simply never let up on their dominant speed.
"We knew going into it that it was going to be a really tight championship with six boats across, so we were prepared to carry out a gritty race no matter what," senior co-captain Susannah Shipton said. "I think that mentality really helped us in the first 500. We just went out hard and then saw what we could do from there. We had a really solid base pace set by Kelsey [Reelick] so that helped us to solidify our speed all the way down the course."
The performance marked a third Ivy League championship for senior stroke Kelsey Reelick, the lone remaining member of the 2011 NCAA champion varsity eight. Senior coxswain Annie Prasad and rowers Angie Gould and Erin Reelick won their second straight Ivy titles, while Faith Richardson, Susannah Shipton, Meghan Wheeler, Georgie Howe and Margaret Bertasi each won their first Ivy title.
"It had been such a privilege to be rowing with this team and in this boat this season as a senior, I can't even express it properly with words," Shipton said. "As seniors, we have been able to watch each other grow and get stronger and faster over the four years and it's been so inspiring. Going out as Ivy League champions is absolutely incredible for us, and we can't wait to keep getting faster for NCAAs."
"What makes it so special is that it wasn’t a perfect season," Dauphiny said. "We weren’t ranked number one. A lot of times, those seasons don’t end in a championship like this. It took a lot of determination to win this today."
The second varsity eight also reached the medal stand, though it fell short of the one it targeted. The Tigers had completed a perfect regular season in the 2V, but a strong push by Brown put the Bears too far out of reach in the final 500 meters. Brown took the race in 6:30.892, while Yale edged Princeton in the final few strokes to earn silver by just over a second. The Tigers finished with bronze in 6:35.904.
"I know they were disappointed, but without the 2V, we don't win an Ivy League championship," Dauphiny said. "It was a special day today, as every rower won a medal. They are all part of this."
The varsity four has been on an upswing since a midseason showdown with Yale, where the Tigers nearly made up a huge deficit to pull out a win. That push inspired three straight wins to end the season, and Princeton capitalized on that to earn bronze at the Ivy League Championships. Brown and Yale took the top two spots, but Princeton held off both Harvard and Cornell by nearly six seconds to reach the medal dock in 7:13.64.
The Princeton third varsity won gold in comfortable fashion, topping Brown by more than seven seconds to win its final in 6:33.61. There was more than seven seconds to Brown in the second position, and then another nine seconds to Harvard in the third spot. Princeton also sent out a fourth varsity, and it earned a gold medal in 7:07.143.
The varsity four B took silver in 7:23.899, just over three seconds back of Brown for the win. Princeton held off Yale by less than two seconds for the silver medal.
Princeton can now comfortably watch the NCAA Championship selection show, as the Tigers are assured of being in the field when the national championships are held May 30-June 1 at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind. The Tigers are one of three programs who have qualified for every championship regatta since the inaugural event in 1997 (Brown and Washington are the others).
VARSITY EIGHT • IVY LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Princeton 6:15.412
2. Brown 6:19.722
3. Radcliffe 6:22.622
4. Dartmouth 6:25.153
5. Cornell 6:26.873
6. Yale 6:32.115
SECOND VARSITY EIGHT
1. Brown 6:30.892
2. Yale 6:34.562
3. Princeton 6:35.904
4. Radcliffe 6:48.522
5. Penn 6:52.215
6. Dartmouth 6:52.612
1. Brown 7:05.157
2. Yale 7:10.532
3. Princeton 7:13.640
4. Radcliffe 7:19.507
5. Cornell 7:20.429
6. Dartmouth 7:28.999
THIRD VARSITY EIGHT 1. Princeton 6:33.608
2. Brown 6:41.143
3. Radcliffe 6:50.338
4. Penn 6:53.263
5. Yale 6:58.741
6. Cornell 7:05.018
VARSITY FOUR B
1. Brown 7:20.593
2. Princeton 7:23.899
3. Yale 7:25.688
4. Radcliffe 7:40.949
5. Penn 7:55.081
6. Dartmouth 8:19.036
FOURTH VARSITY EIGHT
1. Princeton 7:07.143
2. Penn 7:31.643
FINAL TEAM POINTS 1. Brown 81 2. Princeton 73 3. Radcliffe 60 4. Yale 53 5. Dartmouth 40 6. Penn 34 7. Cornell 31 8. Columbia 9
4V: Katie O’Malley (Bow), Katharina Gebert, Emily Fourie, Neamah Hussein, Jen Hu, Julia Stoner, Hannah Priddy, Elizabeth Hutton, Meaghan O’Neil (Cox)
3V: Diana Turbayne (Bow), Caroline Barry, Bridget Jacques, Diana Kenealy, Aubree Andres, Katherine Mayhew, Meredith Bertasi, Olivia McShea, Emi Alexander (Cox)
B 4+: Bridget Leire (Bow), Annalies Paine, Brianna Gilbert Anna Kalfaian, Morgan Nelson (Cox)
Varsity 4+: Catherine Babiec (Bow), Sally Goodman, Brett Simpson, Dagmara Lapins, Amanda Rutherford (Cox)
2V: Mary Ann McNulty (Bow), Nicole Byl, Emily Burr, Margaret Cochrane, Galen Hughes, Kathryn Irwin, Liza McBride, Anna Ionson, Olivia Sayvetz (Cox)
1V: Faith Richardson (Bow), Angie Gould, Susannah Shipton, Meghan Wheeler, Georgie Howe, Erin Reelick, Margy Bertasi, Kelsey Reelick, Annie Prasad (Cox)