Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 15
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
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(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

LIGHT SOURCE: The top-ranked Princeton University men’s lightweight first varsity crew heads to victory over Georgetown and Columbia earlier this month in the Fosburgh Cup regatta at Lake Carnegie. Pictured from left are six-seat Tyler Nase, seven-seat Steve Cutler, stroke Robin Prendes, and coxswain Mike Perl.

Maintaining Their Championship Standards, No. 1 PU Men’s Lightweights Off to Hot Start

Bill Alden

With the Princeton University men’s lightweight crew having swept the Eastern Sprints and Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national regattas the last two years, Marty Crotty knows that his rowers want to maintain high standards.

“The guys came in prepared,” said head coach Crotty, reflecting on the mood he saw around the team as it arrived at school last September.

“We had some of the guys rowing for the U.S.; they worked hard but they were well rested. The rest of the group knew in the back of their minds that if they didn’t stay fit, they would be left behind.”

After a memorable debut campaign at the helm of the program in 2010, Crotty felt ahead of the curve as he started his second year guiding the lightweight program.

“Even though I knew everyone coming in last year, I didn’t know their athletic and personality characteristics,” said Crotty, who served as the assistant coach of the Tiger heavyweights.

“The freshman class that Glenn [assistant coach Glenn Ochal] and I recruited are our guys and we were excited to see them come in and assimilate. The goals are the same; I just know the rowers better.”

Based on the early returns, the Tigers appear to be on track to seriously challenge for a three-peat at the Easterns and IRA competitions. Princeton opened its season by topping Navy and MIT in late March and then posted a win over Georgetown and Columbia in its next outing to climb to the No. 1 spot in the national poll.

Crotty credits his seniors with helping the first varsity pick up where they left off last year as it now won 24 of its last 25 regular season races.

“I count on them to set the tone; they are some of the really consistent guys in the program,” added Crotty, whose top boat currently features seniors Michael Perl, Robin Prendes, Christian Klein, and Gianthomas Volpe.

“They know how the season goes; we are looking for them to keep everybody focused.”

The first varsity showed its focus in its opener, cruising to a surprisingly comfortable victory in the Joe Murtaugh Cup regatta, clocking a time of 6:11.8 over the 2,000-meter course at Lake Carnegie with Navy next at 6:20.8 and MIT third in 6:43.4.

“Navy is always going to give you a good fight,” said Crotty. “It is the nature of those athletes and those guys so I was pleased. I came in confident but not overconfident. I certainly didn’t expect to win by that margin. They are still figuring some things out. I was at Yale-Navy the next week and saw that they already figured some things out even though they lost to Yale. Our league is close, you try to add everything up and work it out and then some boat has a race that changes everything.”

Crotty got more good work from his rowers on April 2 as they rose to the occasion in their final home regatta of the season, sending the seniors out in style with a sweep of the first and second varsity together with the freshman eight in the Fosburgh Cup competition.

“We tried to drive it into them; as we got toward the end of the week and the race, I saw some extra kick to what they were doing,” said Crotty, referring to the home finale.

“The senior coxes drove the seniors hard and the underclassmen rallied around the seniors. Georgetown always has a good boat with that coach (Evan Liolin). We were fortunate to get off to a quick start. They got even with us and we pounded it out at the end. They are a good crew, pretty slick. We are going against them again; we will probably see them four times.”

The Tigers didn’t have a regatta last weekend, thereby giving Crotty the chance to fine-tune things.

“It is a perfect week to not have a race; we are idle in racing but not idle in training,” said Crotty, noting that several of his senior rowers had thesis due dates in early April.

“We have 12-13 days to work on base training for the last time and hopefully it will pay off in Easterns and IRA. We won’t have black and white lines between first varsity, second varsity, and third varsity. We will do pairs and fours and work on technique.”

Despite the crew’s promising start, Crotty knows there is a fine line between being good and great.

“I think for right now we have the right combination in the 1v and 2v,” said Crotty, noting that his first varsity includes three juniors and two sophomores along with the four senior stalwarts.

“We are still a work in progress; nobody takes practice for granted. I am happy but we have a lot of things to work on. We have talented guys; how that is going to jell and come together is still up in the air.”

With no more home regattas, Princeton will have to be road warriors. “We will treat it as business as usual; there are things we do all year to build team and to be professional and business-like regardless of the circumstances,” added Crotty, whose team’s road odyssey starts this Saturday when it rows at Cornell with the Platt Cup on the line.

“My group is prepared to go to other places. Going up to Ithaca in mid-April is always a challenge and an adventure.”

The ultimate challenge is to peak at the right time, gaining speed through the Easterns and IRAs.

“At this point, you are trying to get one or two percent faster, that comes out to four to seven seconds over 2,000 meters,” explained Crotty.

“Some crews develop and get faster and for others, their speed in mid-April is their speed. We are not in good shape if we stay where we were last weekend. There is mid-April speed, mid-May speed, and mid-June speed.”

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