Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lightweight Speed: Spring Predictions

Newell Boathouse (Photo: B. Kitch)
The Fall season was dominated by Princeton, but Harvard had quite a showing at both the Charles and the Princeton Chase. Cornell's Varsity performed very well in Boston, but lacks the depth of the front runners. Yale has a ton of power, but as yet they're not applying it well enough to keep pace with their two main rivals. Georgetown also had solid showings at both the Charles and the Chase, but is anyone going to catch Princeton this year?

Lightweight racing is almost always close. For that reason, and because all the programs are given very similar parts to make up the whole, it's considered by some to be the most interesting form of racing. You are unlikely to see the kind of separation from the field that Cal and Washington had in the Varsity VIII last June. Still, the Tigers had a fantastic Fall. Not only did the Varsity break the course record at the Charles (by twelve seconds), but also the Tiger JV took seventh overall. Their performance at the Princeton 3-Mile Chase further confirmed that they are, once again, a force to be reckoned with, as the Tigers took first and fourth.

Harvard showed great depth on home waters and in Princeton as well, placing third and fourth at the Charles, where they edged a very experienced and fast NYAC entry into fifth place overall. They backed up that performance with second and seventh place finishes at the Chase. While they've not managed to catch the Tigers, they have been close, and clearly have the depth to help force their speed as they train for the Spring.

Cornell, Georgetown and Yale have had some quality results, but their comparative lack of depth means that they won't have the same kind of high-pressure, intra-squad training sessions that the Crimson and the Tigers will as they prepare for sprints season. Navy will always have depth, but this year they seem to lack the kind of top-end speed it will take to overcome the front runners. In light of all this, it seems logical to expect Princeton to have IRA-winning speed this Spring, with Harvard making it very interesting. Yale and Georgetown will duke it out for third place, possibly with Cornell in the mix, and Navy rounding out the Final.

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