May 14, 2003: Sports
of the waters
Photo: Womens lightweight crew remains undefeated in 2003. (frank wojciechowski)
In the world of collegiate womens lightweight crew, Princeton is the big fish in a pond growing larger every year.
For the last four years, the Tigers have claimed the national title by winning the Intercollegiate Rowing Association championships. Princeton started its run in 1999, when it usurped Harvard (which rows as Radcliffe), the winner of three straight national titles before then. Princeton lightweight boats also have won three of the past four Eastern Association of Womens Rowing Colleges Sprints championships.
Despite this years cold weather, which kept the team off Lake Carnegie four weeks longer than usual, Princetons varsity eight was ranked first in the U.S. Rowing/Collegiate Coaches Association preseason poll and defeated traditional powers Wisconsin and Harvard in April, demonstrating the Tigers again will be the team to beat.
We feel positive right now, says Heather Smith, the teams only head coach since the program started in 1997. We have a fair amount of youth in the boat, but I think theyve responded with a decent amount of competitive maturity.
That competitiveness comes in small packages since womens lightweight crew rowers may not weigh more than 130 pounds. Princetons 28 lightweight crew team members average about 5' 6" and 128 pounds, says Smith, but they generate a lot of power during the seven minutes or so it takes to complete their 2,000-meter races in the spring. The team rows three-mile courses in the fall.
Linda Loyd 02, who captained the Tigers to their championship last season and now serves as one of the teams assistant coaches, says the chance to compete with athletes who were roughly the same size was a great opportunity. Racing for national titles made the hours she and her teammates put in on the water, in the workout room, and on rowing machines in the Class of 1887 Boathouse all worthwhile, she says.
Winning national championships is an invigorating feeling like no other, says Loyd, who also was on the team for the 2000 and 2001 titles. I distinctly remember each of those three moments as we crossed the finish line and heard the fans cheering for us. They seem permanently etched in my mind.
Compared to mens lightweight crew, which started in the 1920s at a number of schools, including Princeton, womens lightweight crew is a young sport. The first womens lightweight world championships were held in 1985, and it was not an Olympic sport until 1996. According to U.S. Rowing, the sports national governing body, there are only 25 to 35 colleges that consistently field womens lightweight crews, but more are adding the sport.
Womens crew has a storied history at Princeton. In 1972 the first womens crew to represent the university won the Eastern Intercollegiate regatta, shaving nine seconds off the national womens record at the time. That history plays a large role in the lightweight crews success and the success of the schools other crew teams, Smith and Loyd say. Walking along the hallways of the boathouse, one is overwhelmed by the sense of history and tradition, Loyd says. Striving to uphold the tradition of rowing excellence at Princeton and the support among the teams and coaches make it easier to want to train hard and win. By A.D.
Catcher Tim Lahey 04 (beverly schaefer)
Once Clarke Field finally thawed out this spring, it was not long before the Major League Baseball scouts came calling on Princeton.
During the last two years, the Tigers have seen three of their own selected in the major league draft: Pat Boran 02 (Boston) and Scott Hindman 03 (Anaheim) last year, and Chris Young 02 (Pittsburgh) in 2001. It appears this year will be no different.
In the first week of April alone, scouts with the New York Yankees, Boston, Tampa Bay, Milwaukee, and Detroit came by to check out hitters swings and clock pitchers fastballs. Theyre your stereotypical scouts, says Yariv Amir, who handles baseball duties for Princetons athletic communications office. They come with their notepads and radar guns, and dont let each other look at what theyve come up with on the players.
Two of the top prospects are 6' 4", 215-pound catcher Tim Lahey 04 and relief pitcher Thomas Pauly 04. Lahey is leading Princeton (1816, 102 Ivy) with nine home runs through 34 games. Defensively, he has two errors in 23 games and has thrown out 11 of the 43 base runners that have tried to steal against him this year. Pauly is tied for the team lead with four wins and is carrying a 1.27 earned run average in 11 appearances. The righthander has won Ivy League Pitcher of the Week honors twice this season.
As for the Tigers already in the pros, the big news was the trade that sent Young from the Pittsburgh Pirates organization to the Montreal Expos. Young, who pitched the Pirates single-A Hickory Crawdads to their first ever South Atlantic League title last year, is listed as one of the Expos top prospects and is expected to open the year with the single-A Brevard County Manatees in Florida.
Hindman, who is completing his senior year as he waits for the minor league season to begin, just as Young did last year, is set to play for the Mesa Angels in the rookie league. Boran is on the roster with the single-A Sarasota Red Sox. Infielder Tom Hage 97, who spent time with the Red Sox organization and helped the Newark Bears to the independent Atlantic League championship in 2002, signed with the major leagues Colorado Rockies, but was cut, and is now back in Newark. By A.D.
Mens lacrosse (82, 40 Ivy) won eight straight games after opening the season 02, including a 179 win over Cornell April 19 that put Princeton in control of the Ivy League race and one win away from the leagues automatic bid to the N.C.A.A. tournament.
Womens lacrosse (84, 31) rebounded from a surprising 76 loss to Yale April 12 with a 122 drubbing of Harvard April 19. Yales victory was its first over the Tigers in 11 years and snapped Princetons six-game winning streak.
Mens volleyball (1410) earned a trip to the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Associations semifinals with a 32 playoff win over Juniata April 19 on the road. Princeton had lost its two matches against Juniata during the regular season. The Tigers faced Penn State in the semifinals.
Womens water polo (215) secured its third E.C.A.C. title in four years with a 108 victory over Hartwick April 6. But the Tigers faltered the following week, losing to Indiana 74 in the Southern Championships. Princeton placed third in the tourney after defeating George Washington 92. The team was preparing for the Eastern Championships April 25 and could earn a bid to the N.C.A.A. tournament.
Softball (18121, 91 Ivy) took over the top of the Ivy standings with April sweeps of Penn, Yale, and Cornell. The teams lone Ivy loss was a 15-inning, 10 affair against Columbia April 19. Melissa Finley 05 earned consecutive Ivy League Player of the Week honors last month, while freshman pitching ace Erin Snyder picked up a Pitcher of the Week award.
Mens heavyweight crew relinquished the Compton Cup to Harvard April 19, finishing 13 seconds behind the Crimson on Lake Carnegie. But the Tigers topped Penn and Columbia April 12 to retain the Childs Cup.
The mens lightweight crew team defeated Cornell and Penn on consecutive April weekends and were ranked third in the country as of April 22.
Womens golfs Avery Kiser 05 took the top spot at the Bonnie Hoover Invitational in Virginia April 13 with a two-day score of 224, carrying Princeton to a fourth-place finish in the tourney. Kiser also won the individual title, and the Tigers took the team title at the Georgetown Invitational March 23.
For the latest sports scores go to PAW ONLINE at www.princeton.edu/paw or call the Tiger Sportsline at 609-258-3545
Check out From the P-Nut Gallery by sports columnist Nate Sellyn 04, also on PAW ONLINE