May 22, 2019

With Seniors Setting Tone for PU Open Crew,  Tigers Dominate Ivy Regatta, Make NCAAs

OPEN MINDED: Members of the Princeton University women’s open crew celebrate last Sunday at Cooper River in Pennsauken, N.J., after the program won the Ivy League championship regatta and earned the the league’s automatic spot in the upcoming NCAA Championships. The Tigers earned five first-place finishes at the event and will finish the season by competing in the NCAA regatta from May 31-June 2 in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo by the Ivy League, provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

Even though the Princeton University women’s open crew program had produced a superb regular season, highlighted by its varsity eight going undefeated, Lori Dauphiny was uneasy heading into the Ivy League Championships last weekend.

“I was more nervous than I have ever been in my life,” said Princeton head coach Dauphiny.

“I want the senior class to succeed because this class has brought so much to this team. I really want the best for this senior class so we can’t, as a group, fall short for them.”

The Princeton group rose to the occasion last Sunday, dominating the regatta as it placed first in the varsity four, the varsity four B, the third varsity eight, the second varsity eight, and the varsity eight.

That depth was crucial as the league’s automatic spot in the upcoming NCAA regatta was being based on highest point total in the varsity eight, second varsity eight and varsity four events this year rather than the winner of the varsity eight as in past seasons.

“The team was very excited to see what they could do,” said Dauphiny.

“That was something we talked about in the beginning of the year. It is always a focus on the team and all boats doing well. We knew that there was a little added piece to that since the AQ (Automatic Qualifier) was now going to a points winner.”

The Tigers built momentum through the day in the competition held on the Cooper River in Pennsauken, N.J. as one Princeton boat after another finished first.

“The schedule was such that they saw each other; the varsity is the last race, so everyone knew everyone else’s results, except the varsity didn’t know how the 2V had done,” said Dauphiny. The program won its fourth straight Ivy title in the varsity eight and its first Sally P. Shoemaker Trophy, the top point total for all boats, since it won three straight from 2011-13.

“When the 3V got got to the course, they knew that the V4 had won. When the 3V was just pulling into the dock with their gold medal, the 2V could see that as they were launching. Everyone was so excited for each other and there were lots of embraces.”

In Dauphiny’s view, team unity helped fuel its super Sunday. “This team just really gelled and was very caring about and supportive of one another,” said Dauphiny. “That team culture definitely helped us with what went down.”

The Tiger senior group, led by captains Claire Collins and Emily Kallfelz, played a key role in setting that positive tone.

“They were extremely important to what the team was able to accomplish this year.” said Dauphiny.

“They led by example.They had previous experience and they were able to teach the younger kids and they took on that task. They were personable and related to the team. You have senior classes that are so mature, they don’t relate as well. This senior class was resilient and definitely set an example for all of our athletes. I give much of the credit for the success to the senior class.”

Another factor that boosted Princeton was some good luck on the injury front.

“Something else that really helped us was that we did have some injuries during the season and those folks came back to the team, so we had a bit more people,” said Dauphiny.

“We were still missing some people, that is always sad. But in general, we had people come back from some setbacks.”

That extra depth paid dividends as the Tigers excelled across the board.

“My assistant coaches did awesome work; throughout the team, the boats exceeded their ranks,” said Dauphiny.

“You go in with a ranking and you never know. Only the varsity was ranked No. 1; they fulfilled that and that was scary enough. The 2V was ranked fourth and they won. The varsity four was ranked third and they won. You just go right down the chain. It was a day where everything came together.”

Things have come together for the varsity eight as it is now 13-0 on the spring.

“They had an undefeated season which is pretty special,” said Dauphiny of the top boat which posted a winning time of 6:23.47 over the 2,000-meter course with Brown taking second in 6:27.26 and Yale finishing third in 6:31.74.

“There are five seniors in that boat. Throughout the year, they kept improving. I can’t really pinpoint whether it was this or it was that. It was just steps along the way. They continued learning, they continued evaluating performances. We kept tweaking those things that needed to improve.”

With the NCAA regatta taking place from May 31-June 2 in Indianapolis, Ind., Dauphiny will keep tweaking things.

“We are going to dream big, for sure,” said Dauphiny of the competition which includes the varsity eight, the second varsity eight, and the varsity four.

“It is so hard to compare west and east. We don’t have that much or any overlap with Washington, Cal, or Stanford. They move fast and the west coast has proven to be fast. We will be underdogs in this but I think we will give our best. Our expectations are high.”

In Dauphiny’s view, Princeton’s performance at the Ivy regatta should be a confidence builder going into the national competition.

“I think we can build on Sunday,” said Dauphiny. “There were positives in the momentum on that day and I think if we can continue to feed off the success of our other boats, that will help.”