As six boats traveled 2,000 meters in the men’s heavyweight grand final of the Eastern Sprints on Sunday, Harvard opened up a sizeable lead on most of its competitors – not a surprise, considering the Crimson eight was undefeated on the year and had won the last two Sprints titles. The surprise was that Brown would not fall off of the pace. Brown – which had lost three of its six races this season, including one against Harvard – edged the Crimson by 0.3 seconds, taking the Sprints title and surprising many rowing enthusiasts.
As a Princeton sports junkie, I was captivated by this result as well, though for a slightly different reason: Brown’s victory denied Harvard the Ivy League heavyweight rowing title. With wins in Sunday’s other races, men’s lightweight and women’s crew, Harvard increased its conference championship count to 10. One more title – say, in men’s heavyweight crew – and the Crimson would have had 11, topping Princeton.
But the Bears pulled off the upset, and Harvard finished with 10 championships, tied with the Tigers. It wasn’t quite the dominant performance of last year – when Princeton claimed 15 titles and nobody else had more than seven – but if finishing first in 30 percent of sports marks a decline, the athletic department is in pretty strong shape. (The rest of this year’s list: Cornell 6, Yale 3, Brown 2, Penn 2, Dartmouth 1, Columbia 1.)
The national-champion men's squash team was one of Princeton's 10 Ivy League champions in 2011-12. (Photo: Courtesy Office of Athletic Communicaitons)
Three of this year’s titles, in fact, came in sports that were not among last season’s 15: men’s fencing, men’s squash, and men’s lacrosse. In other words, Princeton won at least one championship over the last two years in more than half of the 33 Ivy League sports. (And remember that these standings do not include non-championship sports such as men’s and women’s water polo, in which the Tigers reached the NCAA Championships this season.)
Princeton will sit atop the unofficial all-sports standings
for a 26th straight year, though Harvard will make it much closer than usual (less than 10 points, if my math is correct). To make a run like that, which started before I was born, a program needs a deep base of talent across all teams. Here is the complete list of Ivy League sports in which Princeton teams finished last this year: football (tied with Columbia, which the Tigers beat) and wrestling (tied with Harvard, which the Tigers beat).