Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 14
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
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HAPPY CREW: Princeton University men’s lightweight crew head coach Greg Hughes enjoys a training session last spring. This season, Hughes has been smiling a lot as the Tigers have won their first two regattas and are ranked No. 1 in the nation. Princeton will look to keep up its hot start as it rows at three-time defending national Cornell this Saturday with the Platt Cup on the line.

Hard Work Paying Big Dividends for No. 1 PU Men’s Lightweights

Bill Alden

Although Greg Hughes liked what he saw from his Princeton University men’s lightweight crew over winter training, he wasn’t sure what he would get when the Tigers opened the spring season in the last weekend of March.

“It’s a new team and we are starting from scratch,” said Princeton head coach Hughes, who guided the Tigers to a No. 1 ranking in 2008 and a second place finish in the Eastern Sprints and fourth place in the IRA grand final.

“Every team is a little bit different. This team performed well through the winter, they worked hard.”

That hard work paid off in the season-opening Fosburgh Cup regatta on Lake Carnegie against Georgetown as Princeton’s top varsity boat cruised to a win, clocking a time of 6:01.7 on the 2,000-meter course to top the Hoyas by 5.6 seconds.

“To be able to start the way we did against Georgetown was good,” said Hughes.

“It showed we were on the right track and now let’s move forward. I was pleased with that.”

Hughes was pleased with what he saw last Saturday as the top-ranked Tigers bested No. 3 Navy and Columbia in the Murtaugh Cup races on Lake Carnegie.

The Tiger first varsity boat posted a time of 5:58 with Navy second at 6:01.3 and Columbia next at 6:22.9 in the competition named in honor of former Princeton men’s lightweight coach Joe Murtaugh who led the program to numerous postseason titles.

Overcoming the Navy gave Hughes a lot of pleasure. “For the last 10 years, that has been a significant race for us; they are very strong on all levels,” said Hughes, noting that the competition had an extra edge this year as Princeton assistant coach Spencer Washburn matched wits with older brother, Hunter, an assistant coach at Navy, and younger brother, Walker, a Midshipmen rower.

“Any time you beat them, you have to earn it. Hey, they are the Navy. It is honest competition. They are good kids. Both teams respect each other and have a good relationship.”

Hughes has a special relationship with his senior rowers who entered Princeton during his first year heading the Tiger lightweight program.

“It has been fun to watch this group of guys go from freshmen to where they are now,” said Hughes, a former Tiger lightweight rowing star himself who helped the Tigers to national titles in 1994 and 1996.

“It is pretty rewarding. Navy was their last home race; it was a little more special for them to win the Murtaugh Cup. Joe is the one who brought them into Princeton.”

The seniors have been racing well this spring across the board. “The class is really doing a great job this year,” added Hughes. “Guys that maybe didn’t step up before are all stepping up this year.”

Senior captains Tom Paulett and Justin Teti have inspired their classmates to step up.

“The two captains lead by example,” said Hughes. “When a team doesn’t need someone to tell them what to do, you know things are going right.”

Hughes cites Dave Krueger and Ken Ewell as examples of seniors who have worked hard to get the top boat headed in the right direction.

“Dave Krueger has been on varsity since sophomore year,” said Hughes. “He is maybe not the most vocal but he is one of our hardest workers. Another who has stepped up is Ken Ewell. He was the stroke on the second varsity the last two years. He has gone through ups and downs with injuries and other things. It is really great to see him doing well.”

The Tigers will need a great effort this Saturday as they row at Cornell with the Platt Cup on the line.

“They are the three-time defending national champs,” said Hughes. “They are good, we have our work cut out for us. It is even tougher when you go against them up there.”

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