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The Princeton women's lightweights plan on being even faster when they meet Stanford next time in California, but this weekend's results at the San Diego Crew Classic added to the optimism after the season-opening victory over reigning Eastern champion Wisconsin.

One week after beating Wisconsin by more than 13 seconds on Lake Carnegie, the women's lightweights went across the country and battled three-time reigning IRA national champion Stanford in back-to-back close races in the collegiate lightweight competition. The Cardinal won both the opening heat and the grand final, though both were decided by fewer than three seconds.

That was a far cry from last season, when Stanford topped Princeton by seven seconds in San Diego and 16 seconds in the IRA national final.

In the opening heat, the Stanford A boat won in 6:41.80, while Princeton took second in 6:43.94. According to head coach Paul Rassam, the two boats were in a dead heat through about 1250 meters, but the Cardinal pulled it out from there.

Though the margin would be slightly greater during Sunday's final, Princeton proved that its earlier performance was no fluke. Stanford won in 6:50.42, while Princeton took second in 6:53.33. No other boat was within 28 seconds of the two programs.

"The athletes seem proud of this early-season effort," Rassam said, "but they are also far from satisfied."

The Tigers will be off next weekend, but they will face two major tests the following week. On April 20, they will line up with their most historic rival, second-ranked Harvard, to compete for the Class of 1999 Cup. The next day, some of the nation's premier lightweight programs will compete at the Invitational Lightweight Cup.

Grand Final
1) Stanford A 6:50.42
2) Princeton 6:53.33
3) Stanford B 7:22.24
4) Washington State 8:02.10


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