PU Men’s Lightweight Rowers Make History at IRA Regatta, Winning 2 Grand Finals, Earning 1st Team Title Since 2010
MAKING NOISE: Members of the Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity 8 crew shout for joy after getting the hardware they earned for taking first in their grand final at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) National Championship Regatta last weekend on Mercer Lake. The Tigers posted a winning time of 5:41.02 over the 2,000-meter course, 1.8 seconds in front of runner-up Harvard. The heroics by the top boat help Princeton win the team title and earn the IRA President’s Cup for the first time since 2010. (Photo by Row2k, provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)
By Bill Alden
One of the unique challenges in sports is performing your best when your best is required.
As the Princeton University men’s lightweight varsity 8 crew prepared to compete in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) National Championship Regatta last weekend on Mercer Lake, Marty Crotty was confident that his rowers were poised to achieve such an effort due to some focused training in the wake of taking first at the Eastern Sprints.
“When we regrouped to get into IRA training camp, I decided for what the focus was going to be and the focus was imagine this boat going a length faster, three or four seconds faster, and we can develop that speed in the next two and a half weeks,” said Princeton head coach Crotty. “It was going to be a little bit of rust; it is going to be a week of really hard work where we do a lot of base speed work where you go out and do over-distance, under-cadence stuff. You go out and do 3Ks and 4Ks which is a lot more than the 2K that you do but you do it at a slightly slow rate. You just learn how to move the boat efficiently, one speed for much longer than six minutes. We did a lot of work like that. There might be two or three universities that show up at the IRAs and they are faster too. We just make sure that we are faster and I think we will be OK.”
The Tiger top boat did better than OK, taking first in its grand final last Sunday, posting a winning time of 5:41.02 over the 2,000-meter course, 1.8 seconds in front of runner-up Harvard. The heroics by the top boat help Princeton win the team title and earn the IRA President’s Cup for the first time since 2010. The Tiger second varsity 8 also prevailed in its grand final, crossing the line at 5:48.97, 2.48 seconds in front of second place Harvard.
Overcoming a bobble off the line, the Princeton top crew found a rhythm as it pulled away to victory.
“The start was super shaky, we went into the buoys,” said Crotty of his V8 which included Adam Casler, Nick Aronow, Hidde Lycklama, George Dickinson, Ethan Abraham, Aaron Wenk, Reuben Cook, William Olson, and David Van Velden. “You never want to do that but once they got it, they got a good bearing. That last 1,900 meters was by far their best of the year.”
In Crotty’s view, a loss to Cornell on April 15, the top boat’s only setback of the season, helped refocus his rowers for the stretch run.
“The loss was a wake-up call; it was a learning experience for the guys, going on the road and rowing on a course you have never rowed on against a good team,” said Crotty. “What we learned is that if you have a bad day you might get beat. We didn’t overreact to it. I didn’t detonate any of the lineups.”
The addition of Olson to the lineup made a difference for the boat.
“We had one very important senior, Will Olson, come back into the first varsity; he had been injured, he was in the 2 seat today,” said Crotty. “He came back into the first varsity — he made a huge difference going into the sprints. We got him for two and a half weeks of training and then he was out the whole month of April. He is a really key guy and I loved putting him back in there as a senior, getting him the two victories.”
Crotty loved the form displayed by the V8 as it won the grand final for the first time since 2010.
“Six of my rowers in that first varsity have a pure sculling background; their first competitive strokes back in the ninth grade when they learned to row were in single sculls,” said Crotty. “In the single scull, you have to caress, you can’t just be in there smashing back and forth on the slide and hammering the catches in. If you watch the tape, in between strokes today is where our boat was just traveling so much better than anybody else. It takes that touch, that feel.”
Seeing the program earn the team title was a great feeling for Crotty.
“That is everything, to get everybody up on stage today was really special,” said Crotty, whose second varsity 8 included Laney Gold-Rappe, Eoin Gaffney, Tim Eilers, Noah Klemmer Domonkos, Peter Skinner, George Middleton, John High, Paul Höselbarth, and Tim Scheuritzel. “It is equal to any one of the individual boat victories. They really have a joy of rowing together and a joy of showing up at the boathouse and being together all the time. As hard as it is, that is the joy and it is all for this.”