Senior Keanan Clark may not have taken a single collegiate stroke against Harvard, but he’s well aware of how special this weekend will be for Princeton. The 1V coxswain knows he and his classmates will have one more opportunity to claim the Compton Cup against a Crimson program that rose to No. 2 in the national rankings this past week.
“While performing well at the medal races is the main goal every year, the Compton Cup is one of the highlights of the regular season,” Clark said. “As a dual race against one of our biggest Ivy League rivals, the competition is always extremely fierce. During my time here, we have yet to bring the Cup back to Princeton, which is a real testament to Harvard’s speed and depth every year. The entire Princeton squad has been putting in some solid training this past week, and is undoubtedly ready for some intense racing on Saturday.”
That is what it will take for fifth-ranked Princeton, which remained perfect on the season with a Childs Cup sweep last weekend. The Tigers are 5-0 in 2013, but they haven’t tasted victory in this regatta since the EARC/Ivy League championship season of 2006.
Of course, history doesn’t mean much to this 2013 squad, which has continued to develop speed as it has picked up victories. There is a healthy blend of both youth and experience in the boat, and Clark has been pleased with the growing chemistry.
“I think we have been doing a really good job building speed from week to week, and it’s starting to show in both our practice pieces and our regular season races,” Clark said. “We have had some solid wins early in the season, but there is definitely more speed to gain in the coming weeks. It’s just a matter of refining our rhythm a little more each day and keeping that same attack as a boat.”
Racing is scheduled to begin with a fifth varsity competition at 9 am, and it will continue every 20 minutes until the Compton Cup is up for grabs at 10:20 am. While Princeton did win this race in 2006, it hasn’t come away with the Cup on Lake Carnegie since 2001.
Clark was only 10 years old at the time, so this would be a historic victory for him. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he and his Class of 2013 teammates will only race once more on Lake Carnegie.
“Racing on Lake Carnegie is an awesome experience,” he said. “Not only is it one of the best courses in collegiate rowing, but there is also so much tradition associated with it. Knowing that I am able to race every weekend on the same body of water as past national champions and Olympic medalists is a truly humbling experience. With only two home races left, the entire senior class is trying to savor every last moment rowing on the lake together.”
Harvard holds a 60-14-1 edge on both Princeton and MIT (which won its lone Cup in 1962), and it is coming off a victory over reigning Ivy League champion Brown last weekend. There is a family connection between Harvard and Princeton; Crimson senior Parker Washburn, a first varsity veteran, is the younger brother of heavyweight assistant coach Spencer Washburn.
Also, for those new to the sport, Clark talked about the specific role of the coxswain during a race:
"The coxswain has a fairly unique role within the sport of rowing. In the racing environment specifically, the coxswain has a two-part job. First and foremost, the coxswain steers the boat down the course. Second, the coxswain is in charge of figuring out an effective race plan and communicating it to his rowers during the race. I came into this year wanting the ability to have better control of my crew and to be a more dynamic racer. Greg Hughes and Spencer Washburn have worked really closely with me over the last few years to help me hone my skill. They have
taught me how to remain calm and composed in a racing setting, while at the same time being able to put constant pressure on opponents."