Enduring a Roller-Coaster Ride at NCAAs, Princeton Open Crew Places 12th Overall
Things started out well for the Princeton University women’s open crew last weekend as it competed in the NCAA championship regatta at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center in Gold River, Calif.
In the first day of competition last Friday, Princeton advanced two of its three boats directly to the semifinals as the first varsity 8 placed second in its opening heat and varsity four won its heat.
“The 1V was able to squeak by Yale in its heat, which was great,” said Princeton head coach Lori Dauphiny, whose second varsity 8 placed fourth in both its opening heat and repechage race to move on to the C/D final. “The V4 won their heat and that was a big surprise.”
A day later, the varsity 4 was able to squeak into the grand final as it engaged in a three-boat battle in the semis with Ohio State and California for the last two spots in the championship race. The Tigers couldn’t catch Ohio State but they were able to edge Cal for third to book a place in the top six.
“It was like the V8 semis last year but we came out on the right side this time,” said Dauphiny, reflecting on the race. “The leader (Yale) was out there but the next three boats were duking it out for the next two spots and we got in by 2 hundredths.”
The varsity 8, though, placed fifth in its semi to slip to the B final while the second varsity 8 won its C/D semi to make the C final.
In the final day of action, there were mixed results as the varsity 4 took sixth while the varsity 8 placed fifth in the petite final to finish 11th overall and the second varsity 8 won the C race to earn 13th place.
“In a nutshell, there were a lot of up and downs,” said Dauphiny, reflecting on the weekend which saw her team finish 12th in the team standings at the competition as Ohio State took first overall. “I was disappointed.”
Dauphiny had hoped to see the varsity 8 and V4 end on a higher note. “I don’t know what happened, it was not bad,” said Dauphiny, in assessing the top
boat’s semifinal effort.
“We were trying to put a whole race together. After the semis, we were working on first 500; we lost significant ground there in the semi. We did a better job on that on Sunday. It was just a tough final race for the V4.”
The increasingly tougher competition at the NCAAs made Princeton’s task even more difficult.
“What I learned was that the field was much deeper than it ever has been,” said Dauphiny. “The races weren’t necessarily closer but the overall number of boats that were in the running to make the grand final was much bigger. There are a lot of new schools in there, it is great for the sport.”
Dauphiny is hoping that her returning rowers will bring a renewed focus next fall in the wake of their roller-coaster ride last weekend.
“I think we want to do better; it would not ring true if I was to say I was satisfied,” said Dauphiny.
“The 2V was in C final and beat two boats it had lost to earlier in Harvard and USC. The 1V had lost to Yale at Ivies and beat them to reach semis so there were strides forward. I think the returners will come back with a bit more knowledge and an increased enthusiasm and energy to do better next year.”
The program benefitted from the enthusiasm shown by its group of 10 seniors over their careers.
“I want to recognize the senior class, the seniors don’t get another chance but they taught us a tremendous amount about what the standards on the team need to be,” said Dauphiny, who also credited assistant coaches Kate Maxim and Steve Coppola with helping the team make progress.
“I wish we could have sent them out with better results but any improvement we have made has been due to them. There were two seniors in that V4.”