May 16, 2018

PU Women’s 8 Takes 3rd Straight Ivy Crown; Primed for Strong Showing in NCAA Regatta

OPEN ARMS: Members of the Princeton University women’s open varsity eight celebrate after winning the grand final at the Ivy League championship regatta on Cooper River in Pennsauken, N.J. last Sunday. It was the third straight Ivy crown for the open top boat and its fourth in the last five years. Princeton is next in action when it competes at the NCAA championship regatta from May 25-27 in Sarasota, Fla. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

Lori Dauphiny had a good feeling about her Princeton University women’s open varsity eight as it headed into the Ivy League championship regatta last weekend.

“This last week of training prior to the championships, they made some really nice strides,” said Princeton head coach Dauphiny. “I started to notice that the boat was picking up speed.”

The Tigers displayed good speed in their opening heat last Sunday morning on Cooper River in Pennsauken, N.J., cruising to a win with a time of 6:46.027 over the 2,000-meter course with Harvard taking second in 6:54.287.

“We knew that Harvard and Dartmouth were very close in speed so we thought they would drive the pace,” said Dauphiny.

“It ended up being a nice heat in which there was a good spread and it allowed us to prepare for the final.”

In the final, the Tigers ended up setting the pace, pulling away to the win with a time of 6:37.176 with Yale taking second in 6:40.036 and Penn in third at 6:43.790.

“We knew that the field was going to be close so we talked about it and said no matter what, no matter where you are, we know it is going to be close,” said Dauphiny, whose top boat has now won three straight Ivy crowns and four in the last five years.

“We have to race our own race. They did a really nice job of execution. There was a lot of adrenaline so in the beginning they were probably rowing higher than we usually do because they were so excited to be in the grand final but they settled down a little bit. They were able to take the lead somewhere after 500 meter mark; it was really close off the start with high strokes and shifts. Once they settled into their base rhythm, they were able to take some seats. Yale did a really nice job, they pushed back again but it wasn’t enough.”

With the win punching a ticket for Princeton to compete in the NCAA championship regatta from May 25-27 in Sarasota, Fla., Dauphiny believes her top boat can go even faster.

“The boat is developing and I do think there is more speed to be found,” said Dauphiny. “They are very committed to the next week because we really only have a week of preparation.”

The second varsity eight will also be competing at the NCAAs and should be bringing in a boatload of confidence into that regatta after edging Yale to win its heat and then prevailing in the grand final with a time of 6:47.136 followed by Yale in 6:49.994 and Brown in 6:52.541.

“They beat all odds, they were ranked third going in and it was a different lineup than what had raced during the season,” said Dauphiny, referring to her second varsity.

“They were experienced racers but not in that lineup. The heat in that boat was extremely important because it was really their first race of the season. It was a time for them to get experience under their belt and to test their speed and see what we would need to do for the final. It was a nice result in the heat that they were able to beat a crew that they had lost to in the regular season. It gave them more confidence going into the final, understanding what their boat was capable of. It also has a great number of seniors so I think there is maturity and the ability to come into a race with a new lineup and not be frazzled by that.”

In the wake of a disappointing showing at the 2017 NCAA Championship, which saw the top boat take ninth overall after an undefeated regular season, Dauphiny is looking to fine-tune things on and off the water in the lead-up to this year’s nationals.

“One thing that we are doing is looking closely at the final exams and trying to see how we can best prepare,” said Dauphiny.

“I don’t think that they were unprepared last year. It is just that many of them hadn’t experienced being in a championship and having exams at the same time. I am hoping that their experience from last year will help this year. We are discussing it more in advance this year than we did last year in hopes of being able to balance it better.”

Taking on such foes as Michigan, Iowa, Virginia, Notre Dame, Syracuse, and Wisconsin this season in addition to the traditional Ivy slate should help the Tigers be better prepared for the NCAA competition.

“We had a very competitive spring schedule and I think that will be helpful to us going into the national championship,” said Dauphiny.

“We had a fair amount of crossover across the country, which is nice. It gives you more experience and it helps you to build confidence as well. I know the competition will be very intense and that the Pac 12 looks to be very good.”

Dauphiny, for her part, is confident that the spirit of unity permeating the Princeton program will help her rowers compete their hardest at the nationals.

“We are very proud of the team and proud of our coaches,” said Dauphiny. “I am very proud of the program to have accomplished what they did. The only reason that those top two boats could finish No. 1 in their league was because of all the pushing and support that they received as a team.”