Preparing for the top-ranked team in the country, the Princeton open rowing team believed it had gained enough speed to make for a dramatic 2000-meter showdown in the Ivy League championships. The Tigers were wrong.
They gained so much speed that all of the drama was behind them.
Princeton won its second consecutive Ivy League championship, and its 12th overall, in stunning fashion Sunday at Cooper River in Pennsauken, N.J. The Tigers never trailed and closed out their third title in four years in a time of 6:15.412, a Cooper River course record, while Brown (6:19.722) held off Harvard for second.
"They did a really nice job," said head coach Lori Dauphiny, who has guided Princeton to six Ivy League championships. "They were on a mission. They did a really nice job handling the conditions. I really don’t know what to say. I knew they had something in them, but I didn’t know they could pull off a course record.
“I believed in them, and I am really proud of them," she added.
The Tigers were determined to grab an early lead, and they did so with incredible efficiency. The call at the 500-meter mark was about a length, and it grew to open water soon after. Brown’s hopes for a late push never materialized, as the Tigers simply never let up on their dominant speed.
The performance marked a third Ivy League championship for senior stroke Kelsey Reelick, the lone remaining member of the 2011 NCAA champion varsity eight. Senior coxswain Annie Prasad and rowers Angie Gould and Erin Reelick won their second consecutive Ivy titles, while Faith Richardson, Susannah Shipton, Meghan Wheeler, Georgie Howe and Margaret Bertasi each won their first Ivy title.
"What makes it so special is that it wasn’t a perfect season," Dauphiny said. "We weren’t ranked number one. A lot of times, those seasons don’t end in a championship like this. It took a lot of determination to win this today."
The second varsity eight also reached the medal stand, though it fell short of the one it targeted. The Tigers had completed a perfect regular season in the 2V, but a strong push by Brown put the Bears too far out of reach in the final 500 meters. Brown took the race in 6:30.892, while Yale edged Princeton in the final few strokes to earn silver by just over a second. The Tigers finished with bronze in 6:35.904.
"I know they were disappointed, but without the 2V, we don't win an Ivy League championship," Dauphiny said. "It was a special day [Sunday], as every rower won a medal. They are all part of this."
The varsity four has been on an upswing since a midseason showdown with Yale, where the Tigers nearly made up a huge deficit to pull out a win. That push inspired three straight wins to end the season, and Princeton capitalized on that to earn bronze at the Ivy League Championships. Brown and Yale took the top two spots, but Princeton held off both Harvard and Cornell by nearly six seconds to reach the medal dock in 7:13.64.
The Princeton third varsity won gold in comfortable fashion, topping Brown by more than seven seconds to win its final in 6:33.61. There was more than seven seconds to Brown in the second position, and then another nine seconds to Harvard in the third spot. Princeton also sent out a fourth varsity, and it earned a gold medal in 7:07.143.
The varsity four B took silver in 7:23.899, a bit more than three seconds back of Brown for the win. Princeton held off Yale by less than two seconds for the silver medal.