Thursday, June 10, 2021

Rowing To Tokyo

Amy Richlin, in addition to being the first women's rowing captain at Princeton and the driving force behind getting the program started nearly 50 years ago, is also the answer to a trivia question. 

Who was the first woman to win the Class of 1916 Cup, given to the senior athlete in the highest academic standing at graduation.

Richlin shared the 1916 Cup in 1973 with cross country/track and field athlete Jim Isenberg. TB learned from a quick search that Isenberg almost won an Academy Award.

Seriously. The basic premise is that he was filmed running on the towpath and talking about his thesis work on general relativity as part of a 30-minute documentary that was produced on behalf of the admissions office. The movie ended up winning Best Documentary at the Academy Awards, except that Isenberg's part was eventually cut out and he ended up not appearing in it. 

He wrote about the experience in the PAW a few years ago. You can read about it HERE.

Isenberg also went on to get a Ph.D., his in mathematics, at the University of Maryland. His career has been spent as a professor at the University of Oregon, where he began teaching in 1982.

As for women's rowing, TigerBlog mentioned that first team earlier this week.

Those Tigers rowed in the 1971-72 academic year, and they won the Eastern championships in what for almost all of them was their first year ever with the sport. Their leader was Amy Richlin, who in the 1970-71 academic year had worked hard to get a foot in the boathouse and then later on recruited the women who would make up that first team.

Amy Richlin is small for a rower. Carol Brown, one of the athletes who had never rowed before but who in 1976 would win Olympic bronze, remembers seeing Richlin outside of Dillon Gym during an activities fair with an oar that was much larger than she is.

Today Amy Richlin is a classics professor at UCLA. She went from Princeton to earn Ph.D. at Yale, where she also rowed for a year.

Richlin was a transfer student into Princeton in 1970-71, after spending a year at Smith College, which is where she first learned to row herself. This made her a veteran among the early women rowers.

The women's rowing program has grown considerably since those early days. The Tigers have put together one of the best women's rowing histories of any school in the country, including multiple NCAA championships by the open rowers and IRA championships by the lightweights. 

The open rowing team is one of three that has appeared in every NCAA championship event. The lightweights recently won the 2021 IRA national championship.

In addition to those championships, Princeton has dominated Ivy open rowing. The league separated its women's champion from the Eastern Sprints in 2012, instead forming its own championship event, and Princeton has won six of the eight that have been contested.

There have also been Princeton rowers who have made an impact on the international level. Most recently, Gevvie Stone won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in single sculls, and she will be returning to the Olympics this summer in Tokyo in the pairs.

Stone will not be the only Tiger there. In fact, two more Princeton Olympians were announced yesterday. 

It was last week when the news came out that Claire Collins will be rowing in the 4s for the United States. Collins was a three-time All-American and four-time All-Ivy League selection who helped Princeton to four Ivy League championships before graduating in 2019. She also won the von Kienbusch Award that year as Princeton's top senior female athlete. 

Nick Mead, a 2017 grad, was also named to the U.S. men's team. He'll row in the 8s. 

Mead began his career at Princeton with a second-place IRA finish in the second varsity and then rowed with the first varsity for two thirds and a fourth. He won silver at the 2017 World Championships.

Then, yesterday, two more Princeton alums were named to the British teams. Hannah Scott, who graduated last month, will row for Great Britain in the 4s, which means there could be a matchup of former teammates there between her and Collins. Scott was a two-time Ivy League champion and a 2019 All-American.

Tom George was also named to the British team, and he will row in the 8s, which, again, means it could be Princeton vs. Princeton at some point. This is his the first Olympic Games for the 2018 grad, but he has been rowing internationally for several years.  

Once again, there will be plenty of Tigers in boats at the Olympics.

In fact, you have to go back to 1972 to find an Olympic Games that did not include Princeton rowing.

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