You'd think it would be impossible to match the drama of Princeton's 5.5-point victory in the 2011 Ivy League Championships, but that kind of magic might be in store for the final day of the 2013 Ivies. Three Princeton wins, including one in an 'A' cut time, have sent the Tigers roaring back and into a slight lead heading into the final day of the conference meet.
Princeton will head into the final day of the Ivy League Championships with 972 points, while Harvard holds second with 949 points. That is the total through event 14; after 11 events, Harvard led Princeton by 155 points.
Thus, no lead will be safe until the final 400 free relay touches the wall at the Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center at Brown.
Princeton, which trailed by 44 points entering Friday, got down to business immediately during the finals session. The 200 medley relay quartet of Kaspar Raigla, Jack Pohlmann, Michael Strand and Harrison Wagner won the event and earned an NCAA 'A' cut in 1:26.25. Harvard took second in 1:27.47, while Dartmouth finished third in 1:27.80.
While each of the first three legs were strong, the one that turned the most heads was the finale. Wagner, who won the 50 free in an 'A' cut time Thursday, went 18.68 in his split to clinch the victory for Princeton.
Junior Paul Nolle opened the individual finals by taking sixth in the 1000 in 9:06.32, while freshman Zach Ridout placed ninth in 9:09.09. While it was an event that gained points for Harvard, the Tiger duo made sure that Princeton stayed within shouting distance for its late-session surge.
Raigla qualified for the 'A' final in the 100 fly and finished eighth in 48.32, while Strand won the 'B' final in 47.87. It wouldn't be Strand's last victory of the night.
Freshman Sandy Bole (1:37.33) and sophomore Michael Hauss (1:38.29) took fifth and seventh, respectively, in the 200 free, while freshman Jeremy Wong placed second in the 'B' final in 1:37.79. Harvard again gained in the event with three 'A' finalists and a third-place finish in the 'B' final, which seemingly put the Crimson in ideal position for the 800 free relay.
We'll get to that in a bit.
Princeton began its rally in the 100 breast by taking four of the top six positions. Harvard's Chuck Katis won the event in 53.90, but Princeton freshman Byron Sanborn took second in 53.94. Classmates Teo D'Alessandro (54.45) and Pohlmann (54.68) took fourth and fifth, while Hasler grabbed sixth in 54.88.
Then came the 100 back. Princeton had four finalists in the event, including Strand, who earned his first Ivy League individual title with a winning time of 47.43. Freshman En-Wei Hu-Van Wright took fifth in 48.43, while sophomore Connor Maher placed sixth in 48.49. Raigla added a seventh-place finish in 48.73, and for the first time all weekend, Princeton had a lead in the team standings.
A gutsy quartet of underclassmen built on that edge to the surprise of everybody. D'Alessandro, Maher, Wong and Bole — three freshmen and one sophomore — upset the field to win in 6:26.87. Columbia actually helped Princeton out, finishing just ahead of Harvard for second in the event.
Saturday's final day will open with prelims at 11 am, while the finals will begin at 6 pm. Live video of the finals will be available by clicking the link at the top of this story.