Reigning Ivy Champion Open Crew Looks For Early Gains, Opens vs. Top 10 Foe
VIDEO PREVIEW WITH KATHRYN IRWIN & SUSANNAH SHIPTON
There is always a blessing and a curse to having a senior-powered varsity eight. The Princeton open crew felt the overwhelming joy of winning the 2013 Ivy League title, as well as fighting to a Top 3 spot in the team standings at the NCAA Championships.
The curse always follows the next year. Maybe curse is too strong a word. But there certainly are more unknowns for the 2014 Princeton open rowing team.
Veteran head coach Lori Dauphiny understands that. Even she isn’t exactly sure what type of speed her top boat can produce this spring. But she does believe in two things — her senior class and the overall work ethic in the program.
And that is a good enough place to start for the fifth-ranked Tigers, who open their season Saturday morning in the annual Class of 1987 Trophy regatta against both No. 9 Brown and Michigan State; a full morning schedule can be found below.
“These seniors are great kids, and we have great captains in Kathryn Irwin and Susannah Shipton,” said Dauphiny, a two-time National Coach of the Year. “I couldn’t ask for more from them. I appreciate their hard work and support. They are truly exceptional.”
While the 2013 V8 had four senior rowers, including All-Americas Gabby Cole, Molly Hamrick and Heidi Robbins, there were three rowers and All-America coxswain Annie Prasad from the Class of 2014 who could be key figures in the top boat this season. There were also six rowers from either the current junior and senior classes who were part of the highly successful 2V last year, and each of them are vying for seats in the top boat this spring.
“We have a good group of young girls, and also a really good senior class,” Shipton said. “I think everybody has the feeling that championships are there for the taking, and everybody is excited to row their best in whatever seat they are in that day. We’re making a lot of changes, moving a lot of things around, and really trying to figure out where people will row best and get some speed.”
While Dauphiny’s teams have always improved throughout the season, this particular year could see one of the steepest climbs from the preseason to the Ivy League Championships (May 18, Cooper River). Not only is Dauphiny testing out a variety of lineups with experienced rowers, but Princeton simply didn’t have the same amount of time on the water as it traditionally does because of the brutal winter.
"We hit the ergs hard this winter and really pushed to get faster as a team so I think everyone is pretty geared up for this spring to translate that speed to moving some boats," junior Faith Richardson said. "We definitely have a lot of work to do before we get there but definitely hope to improve each day throughout the season and make up for that missed water time."
The schedule won’t be easy over the early weeks; Princeton will see Michigan State during its traditional season opener against ninth-ranked Brown, and then will face off against reigning NCAA champion Virginia, currently ranked third nationally, as well as Columbia, the following weekend.
But both the level of competition and added time on the water will strengthen Dauphiny’s squad, which she believes could include impressive speed from the varsity four and the third varsity eight.
“I do feel good about our depth,” she said. “Our boats are fairly similar in speed right now, which bodes well for the 4. That group has talent and experience.”
The extra time will also allow members of the Class of 2017 to work themselves into the NCAA boats; various illnesses or injuries stunted the development of a few key freshmen, but they are back and could find themselves in key seats over the course of the season. Last year, two freshmen (Erin Reelick, 1V and Meghan Wheeler, 2V) were key members of the bronze medalists at the NCAA Championships.
That Princeton team was expected to be a real contender throughout the season. With the graduation losses and uncertainty in the top boat early in the season, this one could have far lower expectations across the sport.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“We lost people in our first boat, and in all of our NCAA boats, but we have an awesome senior class this year,” Irwin said. “Everybody is looking to improve, and nobody is settling down. It’s fun to fly under the radar because people have made big gains since we last faced our competition."
The official racing season opens this weekend for three of the rowing teams, and each will compete at Lake Carnegie. Below is the full Saturday schedule.
Princeton Heavyweight Men vs. Syracuse & Georgetown
8:00 AM - First Varsity
8:10 AM - Second Varsity
8:20 AM - Third Varsity
8:30 AM - Fourth Varsity
8:40 AM - Fifth Varsity
Princeton Open Women vs. Brown & Michigan State
9:00 AM - Varsity Four C
9:20 AM - Varsity Four B
9:40 AM - Third Varsity/Novice
10:00 AM - Varsity Four A
10:20 AM - Second Varsity
10:40 AM - First Varsity, Class of 1987 Trophy
Princeton Lightweight Men vs. Georgetown
11:00 AM - Third, Fourth & Fifth Varsity
11:20 AM - Second Varsity & Third Varsity
11:40 AM - First Varsity, Fosburgh Cup