Showing Diligence in Pursuit of National Title, PU Men’s Lightweights Enjoying Big Spring
SHINING LIGHTS: Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity eight shows its form in a race this spring. Second-ranked Princeton, now 8-1, hosts the Harvard and Yale on April 27 in the race for the Goldthwait/Vogel Cups. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)
By Bill Alden
Last spring, the Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity eight crew ended up less than a second away from a national title.
Princeton placed second to Columbia at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta, clocking a time of 6:19.514 over the 2,000-meter course at Mercer Lake, just behind the 6:18.782 posted by the Lions.
With eight returning members of the top boat competing in the Henley Regatta last summer in England, the Tigers entered the 2018-19 school year primed to take the next step.
“There is a lot of excitement. With that extra month of rowing we got, we were really able to hit the ground running,” said Princeton head coach Marty Crotty. “September and October were that much more productive.”
Senior captain Danny Hogan brings excitement to the team with his upbeat approach.
“Danny is great; he leads by example,” said Crotty. “He exudes a really good school spirit and he has got a lot of pride in the ‘P’ but it is not over the top. He instills a genuine pride in the ‘P’ in all of the guys on the team. It is just a matter of how you conduct yourself day in, day out, consistently conduct yourself with discipline, and school spirit. He makes the boathouse a pleasant place to be around everyday.”
Opening the 2019 campaign on March 23 with wins over Georgetown and Navy in separate races, the top boat displayed discipline from the start.
“What they were able to exhibit in those first couple of races with really challenging conditions was a really good, sharp way of rowing and a lot of poise,” said Crotty.
Producing a poised performance a week later, the Tiger varsity crew defeated nemesis Columbia, clocking a time of 5:39.8 over the 2,000-meter course on Lake Carnegie with Columbia moire than two seconds behind in 5:42.5.
“Whenever the defending national champions come to town, it is good to win that one,” said Crotty.
“We didn’t need to be reminded of that. We didn’t need to be reminded of the fact that we had lost to them three times last year. We were really excited to take those guys on again. We rowed really well and those were some challenging conditions because they were so fast.”
The second-ranked Tigers ran into a tough challenge at No. 1 Cornell on April 13 and came up just short as the Big Red won the race, coming in at 5:45.9 over the 2,000-meter course on the Cayuga Inlet with Princeton posting a time of 5:48.5
“We knew that Cornell was going to be fast from the fall, so it wasn’t a surprise that they were fast, but up until the 1,000 meter mark in that race, I don’t think that the guys truly knew exactly how fast they needed to be,” said Crotty.
While loss was disappointing, Crotty believes it could ultimately prove to be a blessing in disguise.
“They are extremely diligent. They go about their business in a way that I have never seen in 10 years of being the head coach of the lightweight team,” asserted Crotty.
“They are all business and they are focused. There is no complacency in terms of how much they want to improve themselves day to day, week to week. But until you get next to somebody that is really fast, you don’t know how fast you need to be. They had five hours to think about it on the bus ride home and had a week to think about it and the next time we face them, hopefully we will match up better.”
This weekend, Princeton, now 8-1, will be involved in a classic matchup as it hosts Harvard and Yale on April 27 in the race for the Goldthwait/Vogel Cups.
“It has been since 1998 since Princeton has won the Goldthwait Cup on Lake Carnegie,” said Crotty, noting the Tigers have prevailed at the other two venues during that span, including winning in New Haven, Conn. last year.
“A fire burns inside of me knowing that it has been 0-for-6 here since 1998; it is a three-year rotation. I am not silent about that. The guys know the score, they know the history of that and the fact that they weren’t born the last time Princeton won on Lake Carnegie. When you can start saying we weren’t born the last time we won this cup on here, it starts to have a little bit more of an impact on those guys.”
With some special supporters on hand, Crotty believes that his top boat will make a big impact at the regatta.
“We have got some alums coming back; we thought it would be fun to do something around the HYP,” said Crotty.
“It is going to be a big weekend around here, there are going to be a lot of old faces there. Guys who we really love, guys who have won a Goldthwait Cup or two on Lake Carnegie. Hopefully it will be a good spirited effort.”