Tigers Shock The Field, Win 21st Ivy Title, Including 11th of Last 14
Other teams have had their moments in the sun this season. During those days, Princeton lurked in the shadows and waited for the only opportunity that truly mattered. When it came, the Tigers were ready. The Tigers were willing.
And for three magical days in DeNunzio Pool, they were more than able. They were exceptional.
Princeton won its 21st Ivy League championship, including its 11th in the last 14 years, with the ultimate team performance this weekend. The Tigers, who actually trailed in the team points race at one stage Saturday night, sprinted past reigning champion Harvard to win the competition by more than 100 points.
The Tigers, who celebrated afterwards in their orange t-shirts with their motto "Tradition" in black letters, won the 2013 Ivy League title with 1474.5 points, while Harvard finished second with 1374. Columbia topped Yale for third, though the meet once again proved just how competitive the Ivy League has gotten in recent years.
And as the league grows stronger, Princeton knows that it must continue to get stronger. The Tigers knew it 52 weeks ago, when they drove home from Blodgett Pool after falling short in their quest for the 2012 title. They were determined not to let that happen again.
"Suzanne, Greg, Brent and I could not be more proud of this team and the effort they have put into this season," said head coach Susan Teeter, who has led Princeton to 16 Ivy League titles in her brilliant career. "We knew when we left the Harvard pool last year without the trophy that we had to make a plan and stick to it. We wanted to put it all on the line to bring the trophy home in front of our home crowd, and I'm so proud that we accomplished that goal.
"This has been a year-long effort and the entire team and coaching staff has a lot to be proud of," Teeter added. "It's amazing to think that we have been able to win 11 out of the last 14 Ivy Championships. I am so appreciative for the support from our parents, alumni and fans this year, and it's special that we could all celebrate it together tonight."
"Winning the 2013 Ivy title is something this team has been working for since the bus ride home a year ago," assistant coach Suzanne Yee said. "The fire and passion that the upperclassmen and all our returners brought this fall, combined with the intensity and sheer determination of this amazing freshman class, won this meet for us. It was truly a team effort."
The distance duo of India Boland and Maureen McCotter opened the finals session with some key points in the mile. Boland took ninth in 16:43.11, while McCotter placed 13th in 16:48.27. Yale’s Eva Fabian won the event in a B-cut time of 16:09.81, but a strong Harvard pair helped the Crimson make a move at Princeton.
The Crimson actually grabbed the lead during the 200 back final, as freshman Kendall Crawford edged Princeton freshman Sada Stewart to win in a meet record time of 1:55.84. Stewart also set a meet record, though she took the runner-up spot in 1:55.99.
Sophomore Shirley Wang also had an impressive final swim, going 1:57.49 to take third by only .15 of a second over her Harvard rival. Sophomore Courtney Ciardiello added a seventh-place finish in 1:58.77.
Boyce picked up her third Ivy League title in as many nights and defended her 2012 100 free crown by winning in 48.74. She defeated Harvard junior Sara Li (49.20) to win her seventh individual Ivy title in nine attempts.
"I am proud to see Lisa Boyce continually step up and improve each time she races," Yee said. "Her introduction to NCAAs last season, combined with her summer success, has put her in a great position to make a huge impression in the coming weeks. She has proven herself as one of the nation’s top sprinters by having the fastest 50 back leadoff split thus far in the 2012-2013 season."
Classmate Sarah Furgatch followed with her final swim in the 200 breast final, and she made it a memorable one. While Columbia’s All-America candidate Katie Meili cruised to a win in 2:09.41, Furgatch cut more than two seconds off her prelim time and took third in 2:14.84.
Sophomore Emily Yu added a 15th-place finish in 2:19.69, and the team title race was basically a dead heat after 18 of 21 events. Of course, that was little more than window dressing, as Princeton had a major edge in numbers in both the 200 fly and the 3-meter diving finsls.
The Tigers were about to surge in front for good.
It started in the 200 fly, when Princeton placed three swimmers in the ‘A’ final and another two in the ‘B’ final. Yale senior Alex Forrester won the event in 1:55.35, but the freshman duo of Nikki Larson and Beverly Nguyen placed third and fourth, respectively. Larson finished third in 1:59.09, while Nguyen finished right behind in 1:59.58.
Senior co-captain Carter Stephens also reached a championship final in her last collegiate swim, taking eighth in 2:01.31. Freshman Morgan Karetnick broke the 2:00 mark in winning the ‘B’ final in 1:59.89. Sophomore Courtney Ciardiello added an 11th-place finish in 2:01.34.
Princeton made its big move in the 3-meter competition Friday, when the Tigers put four in the consolation finals and ultimately grabbed the top three spots. The Tigers had two finalists Saturday, with Rachel Zambrowicz placing sixth with 276.65 points, and junior Randi Brown taking eighth with 272.30 points.
Princeton concluded the meet with an Ivy record performance in the 400 free relay, though it fell a bit short of a record-breaking performance by Yale to win the event. The team of Boyce, Stewart, Larson and McDonald finished second overall in 3:19.04.
It was a brief moment in second, though, because once the event ended, Princeton was officially first in the Ivy League.
It was a long journey, filled with both tough workouts and tough dual meets.
But the only thing tougher than both was the group of women in the "Tradition" t-shirts, smiling, laughing and crying together as champions in the end.