Head coach Paul Rassam knew that he would have to rely significantly on freshmen this season, and he had to feel pleased with what he saw Sunday at Cooper River during the 2012 EAWRC Championships.
While his varsity boat, which includes members of the Class of 2015, placed fifth in its grand final, the novice eight placed a strong second to Wisconsin.
"I'm really proud of how the novice boat raced, getting a silver medal behind Wisconsin," said assistant coach Tom Paulett, who coached the novice eight. "They rowed very aggressively and were able to stay close to Wisconsin for the first half of the race. This is a good group of young athletes who rose to the occassion and raced a hard and mature piece. They will be an asset to Princeton lightweight rowing for years to come.
Wisconsin, which also won the varsity eight title, took the novice race in 7:06.05. Princeton placed second in 7:13.39, more than four seconds faster than third-place Radcliffe. It was a big step forward for the Tigers, who lost to Radcliffe in the novice race three weeks earlier.
The Princeton varsity eight took fifth in its grand final in 6:43.29, falling to higher-seeded crews Wisconsin, Bucknell and Radcliffe, as well as a Georgetown boat it topped during the regular season.
"Our varsity eight was sluggish out of the blocks, but we passed Georgetown and Radcliffe to be in third place through the 1000-meter mark," Rassam said. "The third 500 meters weren't as strong, and then our stroke lost her seat. These things happen. We will regroup and be at our best for the IRAs."
Princeton will return to Cooper River in three weeks to take on the top teams in the nation, led by two-time champion Stanford, for the IRA National Championships.Varsity Eight