Heavies Will Race For National Title, Are Lone Ivy To Advance All To Finals
LIVE VIDEO: Sunday Finals
Semifinal Saturday is arguably the most pressure-packed session in all of collegiate racing. Princeton handled that pressure as well as any program in the field.
And now it is set up for a potentially thrilling championship Sunday.
Princeton advanced all four of its heavyweight boats — three by victory, one as runner-up — and will compete for every possible gold medal in the altered Sunday championship schedule. Racing was moved earlier due to the storm projections, but each grand final is listed for each boat below. The Tigers should also be a strong contender for the Ten Eyck Memorial Trophy, given to the overall points champion; only four programs will race in all three eights finals (Princeton, Harvard, California, and Washington).
Once again, Princeton will race for the national championship in the sport, as the heavyweight varsity eight handled its business in impressive fashion.
The semifinal race looked very similar to the Eastern Sprints grand final, where Yale also claimed an early lead and never looked back. In fact, in all three meetings between Princeton and Yale this season, the Bulldogs held a lead by 300 meters and were never caught.
In this instance, though, first place meant far less than a top-three finish, and Princeton was never really challenged for that. The Tigers stayed on the Yale boat for about 1000 meters, and then turned their attention to Brown in Lane 5. Those two battled for second position through most of the third split, but Princeton had a move for the final 500 that got it back on the Yale boat.
Yale won by less than a length, while Princeton held second over Brown — matching the top three finishers from the Sprints final. The final three boats pushed neither Princeton nor Brown, so there was little drama in qualification over the final 1000.
The same was true in the second semifinal, as the top three seeds (California, Washington, and Harvard) qualified with little trouble. It sets up the ultimate field for the national championship, which will be decided at 7:08 am on Mercer Lake; the time was changed from the original schedule due to the weather projections for Sunday.
Princeton will race from Lane 2 in the final, in between historic Ivy rivals Harvard (1) and Yale (3). Western powers California (4) and Washington (5) join Sprints bronze medalist Brown (6) in the final.
The Princeton 2V had a dominant performance Saturday morning, and it picked up its first win over Harvard in three attempts this season. The Crimson had edged Princeton by less than .3 of a second for gold at Sprints, but the Tigers took control of the semifinal by the 500-meter mark and never looked back.
The Tigers led by open water over the second half of the race and won in 5:35.83. Harvard’s main rival in the race was Wisconsin, though that would only be for lane assignments, as both were well ahead of Brown over the final 500 meters.
Princeton will be in Lane 4 for the 7:32 grand final, and it will be joined by Wisconsin (1), Harvard (2), Washington (3), Boston University (5) and California (6). The Tigers have won silver medals in back-to-back 2V finals, both times to one of the Western powers; they’d love nothing more than to take that final step to gold Sunday.
The undefeated 3V also had a terrific performance and stayed perfect with a victory over both Brown and Boston University. The Tigers made their push around the midway point of the race to build a sizable lead, and though Brown and Boston drew a bit closer over their final sprint, there was little drama remaining for the Tigers.
Princeton will race from Lane 4 Sunday at 7:40 for the championship, and it will have Ivy rivals Harvard (3) and Brown (5) surrounding it. California (1) and Washington (2) will be on one side of the course, while Boston University (6) will be the final crew involved.
The gutsiest race of the morning came from the varsity four, which came off 4000 meters of racing Friday, and then found itself as far back as fifth during the second split of Saturday’s semifinal.
Around the 1000-meter mark, the Tigers flipped a switch and starting pushing past boats. First Wisconsin, and then past Harvard and California in one of the most exciting finishes of the day. The gap between victory and the petite final was only .4 of a second, but Princeton was the boat that claimed victory. Its finish of 6:22.66 topped second-place California by .13 of a second, and it topped fourth-place Harvard by that .4 margin.
Princeton will race at 9:08 Sunday for gold as the lone Ivy boat in the field; the Tigers will be joined by California, Wisconsin, Washington, Holy Cross and MIT.