If one takes the glass half-empty approach, the fifth-place performance by the Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity 8 crew in the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta last Sunday was distressing.
The Tigers fell off the pace by the 1,000-meter mark and posted a time of 5:55.362 on the 2,000-meter course on Mercer Lake, nearly eight seconds behind the winning time of 5:47.921 posted by national champion Cornell.
“Rowing is a momentum sport; it is important to feel someone next to you,” said Princeton head coach Marty Crotty.
“Once you lose contact with the lead pack; it is really hard to feel that you are competitive. You are scrambling to hang on to the lead pack, showing desperation.”
But Crotty adopts a glass half-full perspective on the spring, refusing to let the season be defined by the last race.
“The season was good if you look at it as a process to work our way back to the top,” said Crotty, noting that the varsity 8 posted a victory at the Head of the the Charles in October and won the Harvard-Yale-Princeton regatta this spring and then took third at the Eastern Sprints.
“We had higher highs. We won at Head of Charles in the fall and that was a direct result of staying in shape over last summer; we only have 15-20 practices before that. By sweeping at H-Y-P and winning the Vogel Cup, we accomplished something that has been a nemesis for us. Harvard and Yale are tough programs. It was a great day and the last day that we had everyone healthy this year. At sprints we showed resiliency. We had some injuries and we had to do some reshuffling.”
With nearly the whole team returning next year, Crotty believes the Tigers have the potential for greatness.
“We have everyone back but three rowers and we have a couple of rowers who are coming back after taking a year off,” said Crotty.
“We have a strong freshman class coming in. I think the returning guys can learn things from the high highs. We showed that when we are healthy and clicking on all cylinders and put our best forward, we can do some good things.”