June 6, 2018

PU Men’s Lightweights Just Miss IRA Crown As Junior Hogan Provides Heart, Consistency

HOGAN’S HEROES: Danny Hogan, far right, helps the Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity eight take second at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta last Sunday on Mercer Lake. The Tigers just missed the national title as they finished just behind victorious Columbia, clocking a time of 6:19.514 over the 2,000-meter course with the Lions coming at 6:18.782. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It was a daily reminder for Danny Hogan and Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity eight of the main obstacle that stood between them and a national title.

Having lost twice to Columbia for its only two defeats of the spring, the boat had its sights firmly set defeating Columbia when the two crews met at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta.

“We were excited in the last three weeks,” said junior Hogan, a native of Lafayette, Calif. “We had their shirt hanging up in our locker room, so it was all eyes on them.”

In the grand final last Sunday morning on a choppy Mercer Lake, the Tigers didn’t have to look far to see their rival as the Tigers were in lane two and the Lions occupied lane three.

“We really wanted to work on our first 750 meters,” said Hogan. “What had been happening in the previous races is they would move out a length or so. We have really been working on maintaining our speed as we shifted into our normal base rhythm. We did a great job of that today.”

Showing its speed, Princeton pulled even with Columbia in the homestretch of the race, but got nosed out at the finish line as the Lions came in at 6:18.782 over the 2,000-meter course with the Tigers posting a time of 6:19.514.

“Being able to push it into a 0.7 second difference, we put it all out there,” said Hogan.

“I think if we had 100 or so more meters, we could have pulled it out. Marty [Princeton head coach Marty Crotty] said we just ran out of lake. It is unfortunate, that happens, but we are really happy with our performance and our drive for next year. This is our closest race that we have had against them. These conditions were pretty similar to what we had at sprints with the big head wins. We really improved in these last three weeks.”

In Hogan’s view, the Tigers have been showing improvement throughout the spring.

“We have been coming together this whole season; we were really brothers and one sister (freshman coxswain Sydney Edwards) out there,” said Hogan.

“Last year coming in fifth was a really unsuccessful season. We really wanted to focus on changing our mind-set as we went in and I think we accomplished that 100 percent.”

The change in attitude centered on developing greater mental toughness. “Basically Marty would never give us anything; if there is pieces going into a headwind and a hard workout, he just says turn it around, we are going to be doing this piece into a headwind,” said Hogan.

“We ate it up. It was breakfast of champions and everyday we would take a big bite, being tough.”’

Princeton head coach Crotty is proud of how his rowers kept improving on a weekly basis.

“There is a trajectory to what they are doing,” said Crotty.  “It was just another step in that. They get better every week. We didn’t go backwards, not one week since February, so that is pretty special.”

While Crotty badly wanted his top boat to win a national title, he saw the performance on Sunday as another step forward.

“At the 1,000-meter mark, it was better than I expected,” said Crotty. “That said, Columbia dug in, hats off to them. I know how fast we can be in the last 1,000. Whatever they were doing to hold us off was something pretty good.”

Reflecting on the season overall, Crotty credited the varsity eight with doing a lot of good things.

“They can be proud of the race that they had, given that it is probably their best race,” said Crotty. “They can be proud of the season that they had because as a program you want to know that you got better and this year they did that, for sure.”

In Crotty’s view, Hogan has been a linchpin for the program. “He is so resolute; not only has he not missed a practice, he hasn’t had a bad practice in three years,” said Crotty.

“He is one of the most consistent guys I ever trained or worked with. He was elected captain for next year. He is the backbone of our team, he is the heart and soul. You never have to wonder ‘is Danny having a bad day’ or ‘what is Danny thinking,’ he is just Danny. He is a rock. We are going to build on that; those guys are already thinking about that next step.”

Hogan, for his part, is already thinking about what he can do to be even better in his senior campaign.

“I have been really confident and happy with my progress,” said Hogan, who rowed from the three seat this season.

“Last year I kind of stalled out a bit. This year I have been improving all through the season with my ERG (ergometer) scores. I have been really satisfied with that. I am excited to get stronger in the summer and keep it working towards next year.”