Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 20
 
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
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(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Crew/Tom Nowak)

HEAVY LIFTING: The Princeton University men’s heavyweight varsity boat churns through the water in a race earlier this spring. Last Sunday, the Tigers placed second at the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges (EARC) Sprints, a marked improvement on their 13th place finish in the 2009 Eastern Sprints.

PU Heavyweights Surge to 2nd at Easterns While Tiger Men’s Lightweights Defend Title

Bill Alden

Even though the Princeton University men’s heavyweight first varsity crew hadn’t won a race since early April, Greg Hughes saw his top boat as a title contender last weekend at the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges (EARC) Sprints.

“We had some learning to do and everyone knew it,” said head coach Hughes.

“It was pretty apparent in our league that while we had lost some races, the racing was tight and we were in the mix. We knew we weren’t out of it.”

In the qualifying heat on Sunday morning in the competition in Worcester, Mass., the Tigers nearly found themselves out of the title mix as they held off Cornell by less than a second to place second and earn a spot in the grand final.

“The heats at sprints are crazy,” said Hughes, a former Tiger lightweight rowing star who is in his first year at the helm of the Tiger heavyweight program after having coached the Tiger lightweights to the Eastern Sprints title last year.

“There were three boats within two seconds in our heat three boats within two tenths of a second in the third heat. I experienced every emotion you can imagine, good and bad during that heat. A matter of a few feet can make it a great day or really bad.”

While the Tigers expended a lot of energy in nosing out Cornell, Hughes didn’t see that as a disadvantage going into the championship race.

“You have to do that to make the final; you need to go to the well to have a shot at a championship race in the afternoon. We knew every boat out there had done the same thing.”

In the final, the Tigers went to the well again, battling Harvard for the title, falling just short as the Crimson covered the 2,000-meter course in Lake Quinsigamond in 5:33.01 with Princeton second at 5:35.51 and Brown third in 5:36.92.

“You have to get in it and throw it out there,” said Hughes, reflecting on his boat’s race plan.

“You have to race beyond yourself a little bit and react. With so many boats, you don’t know what is going to happen. The guys stepped up. It is a really impressive performance; to go from 13th last year to being at the front of the race is great.”

It was also great for Hughes to see his former crew, the Tiger men’s lightweights, defend their championship by beating Harvard by more than two seconds in that grand final.

“It was great to see Marty’s guys win,” said Hughes, referring to his successor, Marty Crotty. “I am proud as an alum of the program and I also had coached all of those guys.”

While Hughes is looking forward to being in the title mix at the upcoming Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta, he won’t soon forget the pride displayed by the Tiger rowers on Sunday.

“It was great to see every kid in the boathouse with a smile on their face,” said Hughes. “Everyone performed; it was a statement for our boathouse.”

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