Wednesday, April 6, 2011

San Diego Crew Classic 2011: Recap and Review

Now that all the racing is done and Mission Bay is once again surrounded by a park rather than a hundred boat trailers, it's time to take a look at our predictions from last week, and the performances of the top crews in San Diego last weekend.

Women's Events: NCAA Teams

Well, we picked the right teams, if not in the right order. USC showed that they have plenty of speed and depth in their program over the weekend, pushing Stanford and Cal into second and third, respectively. Cal was in Lane 4, which can make a difference, with USC in the more sheltered Lane 2 -- but then, that is why the heats matter in San Diego. An interesting note on the USC squad -- of the 37 rowers listed on their Varsity roster, 17 are internationals. Zenon Babraj has done a great deal of recruiting overseas, and it looks like it's paying dividends in terms of boat speed for the Trojans, as they took first place in the Varsity 4+ as well.

We picked Washington to win the 2V and the Freshman/Novice events, and they came through in both cases, with Stanford and USC rounding out the top three in the 2V event. UCLA and Stanford took second and third in the Frosh 8. Another interesting note on the Washington freshmen -- UW Novice Coach Nicole Minett, now into her third year coaching the Huskies, has yet to lose a race.

Congratulations also to Alabama, who took first in the Women's Collegiate Varsity Cal Cup in a time of 6:56.90, as well as to Tulsa (second), and KSU (third).  

Men's Events: IRA Teams

As predicted, Cal was dominant. To Stanford's credit, they made the Copley Cup Grand Final somewhat interesting, and they have a great deal of upside in that lineup, with very promising freshman Austin Hack in the mix. We'll see what kind of speed the Cardinal can gain over the next two weeks as they prepare for the Pac-10 Men's Challenge at Redwood Shores. The JV was another showcase of Cal's depth, as they took first and third (the Cal 2V8 were winners, with the 2Frosh taking third place in the event). Freshman event -- again, Cal, though OCC turned in a decent performance, as usual. 

A local surprise and great performance came from UCSD, who defeated Jacksonville in route to the Grand Final of the Copley cup, where they finished fifth, ahead of Temple, for their best finish to date at the Crew Classic. Zach Johnson has done a fine job building that program, and we'll be watching as they compete at SIRAs later this month. Also, Michigan defeated Oregon State, as predicted.

Men's Events: Small Programs/ACRA Teams

Our pick, Oklahoma City University, didn't quite manage to pull it off from Lane 6 on Sunday, taking fourth as a very quick University of British Columbia took first place in convincing fashion. Drexel, about which we knew very little coming in, made a strong statement, with Notre Dame in the top three as predicted. One surprise was UCLA's defeat of Sac State in the heat, which kept Sac State out of the Final and saw the Bruins accomplish something fairly rare -- making the Grand after missing the Petite Final in San Diego only a year ago. A strong performance from UCI also held Purdue out of the Grand this year.

Junior Events: Men and Women

As predicted Marin proved that they are still the team to beat this Spring, building on a strong Fall that included a first place finish and new course record at the Head of the Charles (see the RR article on that performance here). Also as predicted, Connecticut Boat Club won both the Junior Women's Varsity event, ahead of second place Marin RA, while Oakland was pushed back into fifth place by very strong performances from Marina AC and Long Beach. CBC took first in the JV event as well.

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