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After failing to defeat Princeton in their four previous meetings this season, the fifth and most important loss the Tigers handed the Radcliffe lightweights cost them the championship, leaving the Black and White as the national runner-up on Saturday on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J.
No. 2 ranked Radcliffe finished second only to No. 1 Princeton in the Grand Final of the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) National Championship regatta in the field of six crews, a scenario that has plagued the Black and White all season long.
“It is really disappointing,” said junior Avaleigh Milne. “We really wanted to do what we hadn’t done all season long.”
Before IRAs, Princeton, the defending champion, handed Radcliffe its only two dual defeats, and edged the Black and White a total of four times including tournaments, all by margins under three seconds.
The first time the two crews faced off on the Cooper River, at the Knecht Cup in April, Princeton escaped by only four-tenths of a second, 6:58.3 to 6:58.7.
“We did have a good couple of weeks of practice between Sprints and IRAs to make us faster,” Milne said. “But Princeton was doing the same thing.”
In the previous race at Eastern Sprints, the Tigers defeated Radcliffe by 2.7 seconds.
This past weekend, Princeton staved off another chase from the Black and Whites with its largest lead of the year, posting a time of 6:56.12 to Radcliffe’s 6:59.24.
According to Milne, the wider margin did not reflect a different type of race.
“Unfortunately, I think it felt the same as the previous races,” she said. “We felt we had the same solid race as we had before, and did all we could to make the outcome different, but ended up with the same result.”
Wisconsin finished third, three seconds behind Radcliffe. Georgetown, Stanford and Purdue followed in that order to round out the Grand Final.
This year’s win marks the fifth straight lightweight championship for Princeton’s women.
Radcliffe’s second varsity eight finished third in its event’s Grand Final in 5:56.09. California took home top honors, posting a time of 5:53.13 while Washington finished second at 5:55.65.
Despite the disappointing finish, the lightweights stepped up their performance from last year in overtaking the Badgers and closing the gap between the Black and While and the Tigers.
“Last year we finished third and were 12 seconds out of the lead,” Milne explained. “This year, it was us versus Princeton. The result was not what we wanted, but it was an improvement.”
—Staff writer John R. Hein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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