Wednesday, June 1, 2011

IRA National Championship Regatta, 2011: RR Picks and Predictions

Tomorrow the running of the 109th IRA Regatta will commence, with the heats/lane assignments now posted and the top varsity programs in the US assembled in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The racing will undoubtedly be extremely close once again, with international caliber talent on display, and two undefeated seasons on the line – Washington and Harvard have dominated the West and the East this season, with close competitors Cal in the West, Princeton and Wisconsin in the East. It wouldn't be RR if we didn't make some predictions, so let's get on with it.

Men's Varsity Eight: Grand Final and Order of Finish

Washington
California
Wisconsin
Harvard
Princeton
Brown

The Washington men will be looking to avenge last year's loss to Cal, Callahan has made switches since Pac-10s (two new rowers in their V8, both of whom have very good pedigrees - Ty Otto is now in the five seat, and was in last year's Husky V8 and US U23 8; Tom Lehmann is back in the boat at bow seat – he is Washington's one Olympian, having come 4th in the pair in Beijing for Germany). Cal will be extremely strong once again, with a lineup that features Beijing Olympian Olivier Siegelaar, and a coach who is truly one of the best in the world. California has a very talented frosh class that will be moving up next year, and Callahan will need to capitalize on his speed while he can, with Teti making a big difference already with both his skills on the water and his ability to recruit. Wisconsin trained through EARC Sprints, and was still able to claim a bronze medal – they have been aiming for this all season, and will be more than ready this weekend. For these reasons, we think that Washington, Cal and Wisco will push the Crimson out of the medals this weekend in the varsity eight, with Harvard coming off their tough four mile race v. Yale last weekend.

Men's Second Varsity Eight: Grand Final and Order of Finish

Washington
Harvard
Wisco
California
Princeton
Syracuse

The Washington 2V is very, very fast. At the Pac-10 Championships, they recorded a time of 5:41 seconds in a blowout, open water victory over the field. Their V8 raced roughly half an hour later, and while there may have been some changes in conditions, etc., the Husky V8 crossed the line in 5:38, with Cal pushing them all the way down the course (and finishing in 5:39). It would be tempting to suggest that the Husky 2V might be capable of making the grand final in the V8 category, but since they won't be racing in it, we'll just have to take them to finish on top in the 2V event. Harvard will be very strong as well – this match-up will feature two former NAC Junior two-time Youth National Champions facing off against one another, with AJ Brooks in the two seat of the Husky eight, and JP Hogan in the 2V from Harvard. We expect Wisconsin to round out the medals, following their strong performance at Sprints.

Men's Freshman Eight: Grand Final and Order of Finish

California
Harvard
Washington
Princeton
Navy
BU

The Golden Bears of Cal look to be the class of the field this year, following an undefeated season with open water victories all year, but Harvard will also bring an extremely talented crew to the event, after their dominant victory at Sprints. Harvard frosh coach Bill Manning is sick of losing to both Cal and Washington, and we are taking them to finish ahead of the Husky frosh this year.

Men's Lightweight Varsity Eight: Grand Final and Order of Finish

Harvard
Dartmouth
Princeton
Yale
Cornell
Navy (though this could be Columbia, depending on the heat structure)

Crimson oarsmen Austin Meyer and Will Newell are very strong, and very experienced. Rumor has it that Austin Meyer will be taking next year off to try to make the Olympic four if all goes well this Spring, so he will want to head into the Summer with a bang. Dartmouth has lots of big ergs and a good coach who will be looking to make a statement after retiring from coaching the Cornell heavies. They have some talent and very hardworking guys, led by sophomore Josh Konieczny, who went 6:13 earlier this year, breaking the school record for 2k. We're also looking for a very talented Princeton to bounce back from a tough race at EARCs and crack the medals at the IRA.

Women's Lightweight Eight: Grand Final and Order of Finish

Princeton
Wisconsin
Stanford
Radcliffe
Bucknell
Georgetown

The Tigers, whom we profiled earlier this year after they opened up with open water victories over Stanford (last year's champion) and Wisconsin, enter into the 109th IRA following an undefeated regular season and a victory at EARC Sprints, and they'll be looking to pull off the same feat as their openweight counterparts at NCAAs last Sunday. Wisconsin have been gaining speed all Spring, and we're looking for a strong second place finish from them, with Stanford holding off Radcliffe to take the bronze medal in the event.

Now that we're done prognosticating, we can sit back, relax, and do some armchair quarterbacking!

–RR

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