For the third consecutive week, the Radcliffe lightweight crew faced archrival Princeton. And for the third consecutive week, the defending national champion sent the Black and White back to Cambridge without a win.
Radcliffe sent two boats down to Lake Carnegie, N.J., to face Princeton and MIT—its eight and its four ‘A’ boat. Both crews finished behind the Tigers.
The story of last weekend’s races at the Knecht Cup was the narrow margin (four-tenths of a second) that the eight lost by, and the success that the lightweight four had against heavyweight competition. If the results of a week ago were a high note early in the season, Saturday’s dual meet results were a step down, with members of both boats calling the races “disappointing.”
The lightweight eight finished in 7:14.26, a full 1.46 seconds behind the Tigers. The race began in a somewhat similar fashion, however.
“We started better than last week,” junior Avaleigh Milne said. “We were still down [to Princeton] off the start, but not nearly as much as a week ago.”
“We were aiming for a much better start than last week,” co-captain Jessica Hertz added.
In last weekend’s race, the Black and White overcame a slow start with a strong middle stretch and a feverish sprint that left Princeton a mere foot ahead when the boats crossed the finish line.
Although a week’s practice helped its starts, as Hertz said, the team was not able to add that to the strong middle and sprint of a week ago.
“We just didn’t seem to pull it together like last week,” Milne said.
With a smaller lead off the line, the Tigers opened up water as the race progressed, finally finishing a full second ahead of their margin in the Knecht Cup.
Radcliffe’s lightweight four also had some difficulties, finishing behind both of Princeton’s lightweight fours, but by a much larger margin than in the eight event.
The Tiger’s ‘A’ boat clocked in at 8:02.1, and the ‘B’ squad came in about seven seconds later. Radcliffe was a full eight and a half seconds off the ‘B’ boat’s pace, finishing in 8:16.9, which was still well ahead of fourth-place finisher MIT.
A late personnel switch and the team’s first dual meet of the season may have contributed to disappointing results.
Much like its companion eight, the Black and White four came off the line strong but not as strong as the Tigers.
“Princeton’s always fast off the start,” junior Elizabeth Tisei said. “But they expanded their lead in the middle stretch.”
The Tigers also found open water at the finish. Next weekend the women’s lightweight will be navigating the familiar waters of the Charles river against Georgetown. Though its latest results were disappointing, Hertz figures that three straight weeks of facing the defending national champion will benefit Radcliffe in the end.
“Princeton’s the top of the competition before Eastern Sprints,” Hertz said. “Racing them shows us how we will fare against the top competition in the more important races.”
—Staff writer Timothy M. McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.