Last weekend, the Princeton heavyweights faced off against Navy in the continuation of a series that began 101 years earlier. The Navy-Princeton Rowing Cup is a historic trophy with a proud tradition.
And when both the rivalry and the Cup were first introduced, the Childs Cup was already historic.
Only ten years after Princeton and Rutgers played the first intercollegiate football game, Princeton raced both Penn and Columbia on the Schuylkill River for this new trophy called the Childs Cup. Even the inscription gives you a sense of its history, as Princeton is referred to as “The College of New Jersey of Princeton.”
On that day in 1879, Princeton finished third. The Tigers will return to the Schuylkill River 135 years later with a much better finish in mind.
Winners of the Childs Cup in 19 of the last 20 years, the fourth-ranked Princeton heavyweights will look to build on their perfect season when they head to Philadelphia to open their 2014 Ivy League schedule. The Tigers come into the weekend off a narrow win over Navy, who actually moved up four spots in the national poll after that race.
While the Tigers, who lead the overall series with 46 wins, have been the dominant program in this rivalry recently, the races have often been close. Last season, Princeton topped host Columbia by less than three seconds.
This year’s host certainly has even higher aspirations. Penn, ranked ninth in latest US Rowing poll, had one of the most dramatic results of the early Eastern racing season with an upset of Northeastern two weeks ago. The Huskies were ranked second nationally at the time, and were coming off a bronze medal performance at Sprints last season.
Columbia is 2-0 on the season, its first under new head coach Scott Alwin. It will be an ironic first heavyweight meeting between Alwin and Prince-ton heavyweight head coach Greg Hughes, who worked together with Tiger lightweights. Alwin took the Columbia lightweight head job following the 2006 season, and he faced his former boss three times before Hughes took over the heavyweights.
On Saturday, they will meet again in a rivalry that began more than 100 years before either were born.