Coming into the Ivy League Championships regatta last Sunday, Lori Dauphiny was certain that her Princeton University women’s open crew varsity 8 faced a dogfight.
“It was wide open, we talked about it as a team,” said Princeton head coach Dauphiny.
“It is one of the most difficult years to poll the varsity 8s, everyone has beaten everyone else. We knew going into that it was going to be very close, that is a testament to the speed in our league.”
But in the end, Princeton’s top boat had the speed to pull away to a convincing win in the Grand Final as it clocked a time of 6:29.961 over the 2,000-meter course on Cooper River in Camden, N.J. with Yale second in 6:36.859 and Radcliffe taking third in 6:41.108.
The varsity 8’s victory gave the Tigers the league’s automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA championship regatta and helped Princeton win the Ivy team points title, which it earned with an 81-74 edge over second-place Radcliffe.
Dauphiny was pleasantly surprised by her 1V’s margin of victory. “We had a good heat, we felt pretty good about the final race,” said Dauphiny, whose top boat clocked a time of 6:39.257 in winning its heat with Brown next in 6:48.499
“We felt good and we knew it was going to be close although it didn’t turn out to be that close. The conditions were a factor. We had a nice, solid start and that put us in a good place and we went from there.”
In Dauphiny’s view, her varsity boat was in a good place as it prepared for the Ivy regatta.
“We were improving, we had a good race against Michigan to end the regular season,” said Dauphiny, whose 1V posted a 12.5 second win over the Wolverines on May 4 and has now won two of the last three Ivy titles and 13 overall.
“We had some time between that race and the sprints and they kept working hard and getting better.”
Dauphiny credits her senior class with helping the Tigers get better and better.
“We knew going in that the senior class was going to be a big key and a critical component to our results,” asserted Dauphiny, whose top boat included senior stalwarts Heidi Robbins, Molly Hamrick, Liz Hartwig, and Gabby Cole in addition to juniors Annie Prasad, Kelsey Reelick, Angie Gould, and Kathryn Irwin together with freshman Erin Reelick. “It is a strong class with a wealth of experience.”
The Tiger second varsity had a strong finish as it placed third but had hoped for more as it hadn’t lost all spring.
“It was actually heart-wrenching,” said Dauphiny, whose 2V came in at 6:47.010 with Brown first in 6:41.366 and Radcliffe second in 6:43.507.
“They were undefeated going in so they were torn up about getting third. They did their best and executed their plan. A factor was that the racing was going on in lanes five and six and they were a little far away in lane three.”
Princeton’s other victory in the Ivy regatta came from the third varsity 8 which topped runner-up Penn by nearly 13 seconds.
“They were also undefeated coming in and it was awesome to see them win their race,” said Dauphiny of the boat which posted a time of 7:09.964 with Penn second in 7:22.321.
“It was a mix of youth and experience. They had some adversity with injury and lineup changes and fought through.”
The varsity 4 earned a medal, taking third as it prepares for the NCAA regatta which includes the 1V, 2V, and V4 boats.
“The varsity 4 did a great job of getting a medal, dealing with some injuries and lineup changes,” added Dauphiny, whose top 4 covered the course in 7:48.427 with Brown first in 7:39.511 and Yale second in 7:43.215.
In Dauphiny’s view, her rowers did a great job across the board last weekend.
“The whole team really played a role in our win, every boat and every rower stepped up,” said Dauphiny, crediting new assistant coaches Kate Maxim and Steve Coppola with fostering a positive and competitive team atmosphere.
“They are really excited and super proud of what they accomplished. It took a lot of hard work and it was well fought.”
Princeton is excited about competing in the NCAA regatta in Indianapolis, Ind. from May 31-June 2. In 2012, the Tigers took fourth in the team standings and qualified each of its three boats to their respective grand finals.
“They need to continue to improve and work on their weaknesses,” said Dauphiny, who has guided the Tigers to every NCAA regatta since the inaugural meet in 1997 and whose varsity 8 won national titles in 2006 and 2011.
“They have to finish exams. We only have a few days after exams before we have to fly out to Indianapolis. The nationals is a whole new ballgame. There are many schools that look strong.”