On an afternoon that had both fast conditions and a record-setting crew, the Princeton men's lightweights were not able to produce the kind of race it would need to find the medal stand at the IRA national championships. The Tigers, who earned bronze at the Eastern Sprints, took sixth in the grand final.
During the first few strokes of the race, held on Cooper River in Cherry Hill, N.J., it appeared that Princeton might be able to mount a challenge against the unbeaten Harvard Crimson. By the 500-meter mark, the Crimson had taken over, and the Tigers ultimately found themselves falling short of the next pack of boats.
"We were prepared to do something much better than that," said head coach Marty Crotty, who led Princeton to the 2010 national championship. "I think, in really fast conditions, it is important to establish connection from the first stroke. We didn't do that. You can hang on for a while, but you eventually lose the momentum of the pack."
Harvard broke the Princeton course record with a winning time of 5:33.059. Dartmouth matched its silver effort at Sprints with a second-place finish in 5:34.035, while Yale pushed past Georgetown for third.
"Congrats to Harvard, because that is a really good crew," Crotty said. "They pretty much smashed our previous best time on this course. Going 5:33 with eight guys who are 155 pounds is really impressive. My hat's off to the Crimson."
As for his own squad, Crotty's greatest disappointment was for the members of his crew who raced for the final time in Orange and Black. Steven Cutler, Gianthomas Volpe, Alex Rubert, Derek Porter and Connor Edel were members of the varsity eight and leaders in the 13-member senior class.
"We had a lot of seniors in this boat, and the most emotion I feel is for them," Crotty said. "They all had great careers and won plenty of races and plenty of Cups, and all these guys were either a national champion or an Eastern Sprints champion. They have a lot to be proud of."
Princeton also sent an open four into the weekend, and it placed second in its petite final. Its time of 6:32.025 was 2.5 seconds faster than Northeastern; Cornell took the race in 6:29.636.
Varsity Eight • Grand Final
1 – Harvard 5:33.059
2 – Dartmouth 5:34.035
3 – Yale 5:36.671
4 – Georgetown 5:37.966
5 – Cornell 5:42.397
6 – Princeton 5:43.258
7 – Columbia 5:47.795
Open Four • Petite Final
1 – Cornell 6:29.636
2 – Princeton 6:32.025
3 – Northeastern 6:34.639
4 – Syracuse 6:37.422
5 – Pennsylvania 6:44.607
6 – Drexel 6:48.479