WORCESTER, Mass. - With a decisive win in the varsity eight grand final Sunday afternoon at Eastern Sprints, the No. 1 Yale heavyweight crew team claimed Sprints gold medals and the Ivy League title for the second year in a row. This marked the first time Yale has repeated as Ivy League and Sprints champions since 1982.
It was a chilly and windy day on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, creating conditions that Yale's Craig W. Johnson '68 Head Coach of Heavyweight Crew Steve Gladstone described as "wild". A curveball from Mother Nature was not necessarily what Yale needed on this day, as the Bulldogs came in as the favorites. But a full season of practicing and racing in a wide variety of conditions left Yale well-prepared, and it showed in another dominant performance by the varsity eight. Harvard (No. 3 in the seeding poll) and Princeton (No. 2 in the seeding poll) both got off to quick starts in the grand final, but by the second 500 Yale had a lead it would not relinquish.
"This is how we train," Gladstone said in reference to the rough conditions. "We train in sleet, we train in snow. This is what we do."
Yale's formula had added up to an undefeated spring, with margins of victory no smaller than two seconds in every race. Princeton had been the crew that had come closest to overtaking Yale in the cup season, finishing 2.1 seconds behind the Bulldogs at the Carnegie Cup in late April. The Tigers also proved to be Yale's toughest competition on Sunday, but within the first 500 meters Yale had a six-seat lead on them. The Bulldogs would finish in 5:37.494, with Princeton second at 5:39.838. Brown overtook Harvard to finish third (5:40.643).
"I've watched it all season long," said Gladstone of his varsity eight. "They're smart racers and they enjoy what they do. They're very determined."
The win also continued the progress the program has seen under Gladstone. The Bulldogs finished seventh and eighth at Sprints in his first two seasons, then fifth and sixth in his second two seasons, but now have put together back-to-back first-place finishes in his fifth and sixth seasons in New Haven.
Gladstone's Bulldogs are not just fast; they are also relatively young, with only two seniors in the varsity eight boat. Those two -- coxswain Chris Carothers and captain Hubert Trzybinski -- will graduate shortly knowing that the program has a bright future.
"They're graduating leading a very fast program," said Gladstone.
Carothers and Trzybinski were two of the seven members of the 2016 Sprints champion varsity eight who also won varsity eight gold in 2015 -- joined by Sholto Carnegie, Nate Goodman, Robert Hurn, Paul Jacquot and Ollie Wynne-Griffith. New to this year's boat were freshman Charlie Elwes and junior Stephan Riemekasten.
In other races, Yale's fourth varsity was the first boat to finish Sunday, coming in 10th with a time of 6:16.134 in the petite final.
After finishing third in its morning heat and just missing a spot in the grand final, Yale's third varsity won its petite final to finish seventh. The Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead and maintained it throughout, getting open water on second-place Dartmouth near the finish line. They finished in 5:58.363, with Dartmouth next at 6:01.922.
Yale's second varsity raced in the grand final, which quickly developed into a race between Harvard and Princeton for gold. The Crimson edged the Tigers by .02 for the win, and Yale finished in fifth (5:55.678).
The varsity eight's win capped a memorable day in Worcester for Yale crew in general, as the Bulldog lightweights also won the Ivy Championship and added a Jope Cup title thanks to first-place finishes in the varsity and second varsity races along with a third-place finish in the third varsity.
Up next for Yale is the IRA National Championship, June 3-5 on Mercer Lake in New Jersey.
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity