Varsity 4 Wins Gold Medal at IRA Championships, Providing Highlight for PU Men’s Heavyweight Crew
HEAVY MEDAL: Members of the Princeton University men’s heavyweight varsity 4 celebrate after they won the grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta last Saturday. The boat clocked a winning time of 6:20.001 over the 2,000-meter course on Mercer Lake, edging runner-up Washington, who came in at 6:20.897. The boat included coxswain Eleanor Bauer, Greg Le Meur, Matthew Wagner, Emmett Infante, and Samuel Kleiner. (Photo by Row2K, provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)
By Bill Alden
Heading into the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta last weekend at Mercer Lake, the Princeton University men’s heavyweight rowing program was girding for a dogfight.
“It has been an interesting year, we faced plenty of challenges,” said Princeton heavyweight head coach Greg Hughes. “The [Eastern] Sprints for us was just an awesome breakthrough. It was a really, really positive step forward. We knew coming in that the level is high and there is a lot of depth. There are new programs in that top mix. Syracuse has done a really amazing job. Northeastern has done an amazing job. Dartmouth has done an amazing job, they are in the mix now. Look back to 2018 and 2019, those teams are here now and they are players. We knew that. We did a decent job preparing. We were in a position to be a contender and I think we were.”
The varsity 4 provided the highlight of the regatta for Princeton, winning its grand final on Saturday to earn a national title. The boat posted a winning time of 6:20.001 over the 2,000-meter course, edging runner-up Washington, who came in at 6:20.897.
“It was amazing, that was such an inspiration for me to watch,” said Hughes of the boat which included coxswain Eleanor Bauer, Greg Le Meur, Matthew Wagner, Emmett Infante, and Samuel Kleiner.
“What is great is that learning to win matters and that is something we will bring into the program next year. All of those guys will be back. That was phenomenal and it was an inspiration to the rest of our team too. That was really, really rewarding and positive.”
Another positive moment for Princeton came on Saturday when the second varsity 8 battled hard to take third in its semi to earn a spot in the grand final.
“The 2V semifinal, that was a really gutsy effort and a lot of those guys are back,” said Hughes, whose 2V went on to place sixth in the grand final won by Yale. “There are silver linings in the weekend.”
It was a tough weekend for the varsity 8 who took fourth in its semifinal on Saturday to miss out on the grand final and competed in the petite final on Sunday.
“We needed to learn some tough lessons and then have an opportunity to do something about them,” said Hughes, whose top boat took third in the petite final to finish ninth overall nationally.
“We learned some good stuff. We missed that for three years. For those guys, that is the next step to be able to build on that. It will be important for us to keep how we felt today in our hearts and minds on those hardest days of training.”
Hughes is looking for his rowers to train hard over the offseason to take the next step.
“Now it is up to the guys this summer to recognize that what we were able to put together with two, three or four weeks of having people healthy,” said Hughes.
“Now we have 365 days and they have to recognize that and approach it that way.”