Thursday, September 22, 2011

2011 RoRys, Part Two - The Top Programs, Coaches and Athletes at the College Level


It's day two of the 2011 RoRys, and we're very pleased and excited to be handing out our awards for the most outstanding performances at the college level during the 2010-2011 season. And so, without further ado, the RoRys go to...

RoRys for Programs of the Year

Washington Men
Michael Callahan and Luke McGee are running the deepest program in the US at the moment, and they've proven that emphatically over the past few years. From top to bottom, they do it with the best American and international talent. They medaled in every event at the 2011 IRA Regatta, and won everything except for the Frosh 8+, in which they finished second behind an undefeated Cal crew. The Huskies won the Ten Eyck trophy in dominant fashion for the fifth consecutive time, and won the MV8 for the second time in Callahan's four years as head coach (the Huskies having won the silver medal in the other two years).

Stanford Women
The 2010-2011 Stanford Cardinal probably had the most raw talent of any team in the country. Incredible depth with a Junior World Champion Rebeca Felix in the Varsity 4+ at NCCAs. Although they didn't win the NCAA Championship in 2011, they lost by the narrowest of margins (.06 seconds in the V8 which means they lost the tiebreaker). However, because they were so very close in the V8, dominated the 2V8, and finished a spot higher in the Varsity 4+, we are picking them as our program of the year. Elle Logan, Anna Dawson, Christina Bax, Lindsay Meyer, Grace Luczak, Michelle Vezie, Claire Grover and the rest of the high-end talent in Palo Alto were 2011's strongest team and they came oh-so-close to winning it all. Despite missing Brown in the end by a narrow margin, the overall balance of the team weighs in favor of Stanford in our minds.


RoRys for Coaches of the Year

Chris Clark – Wisconsin Men
Though he enters the fray with fewer internationals than any of the other top varsity programs, Clark was once again less than a second away from silver in the MV8 at IRAs this year. Clark is an excellent coach who has a great system in place, and knows how to do what it takes in Madison to battle Cal, Washington and the Ivies on a yearly basis. Also, Clark is almost always reliable for a good soundbite. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this year's result was that the Frosh classes in the three years preceding this year had never done better than fifth at the IRA, and were in the Petite Final in two of those three years. As Freshmen the Wisconsin crews are comparatively much slower than their counterparts at Harvard, Washington and Cal, yet they were right in the thick of it this year in both the MV8 and 2V8 races.

John Murphy – Brown University Women
Although Stanford wins the 2011 RoRy for best team, it is Brown who had the best coach in 2011 as somehow John Murphy found a way to get the job done when it counted most. He and his wife, Phoebe, finished the year looking like they have the magic formula as they rebounded from a tough 2010 in which the Varsity 8 finished back in 8th place at the NCAA Championships. This year they came back in a big way after getting swept by Princeton at Sprints just two weeks before the 'Big Dance.' The Bears snuck up West Coast favorites Stanford, Cal, USC and beat the same Princeton team that swept them at Sprints. This was John Murphy's seventh NCAA title in the 15 years that the NCAA Championships have been in existence. He wins the NCAA Championship just under 50% of the time!


RoRy for Race of the Year

Yale Lightweights win IRAs
This may well have been the closest race of the year, and it saw a resurgent Yale LM8 upsetting a previously undefeated Harvard that contained Will Newell, Austin Meyer, and Andrew Campbell, all of whom represented the USA in Bled. The Bulldogs, who were third behind Harvard and Dartmouth at Sprints, edged the Crimson by just 0.02 seconds (less than one foot) to take home the trophy (to watch this race, click here). Needless to say, Andy Card was suitably pleased.


RoRy for Breakthrough Performance of the Year

Virginia Men and Frank Biller
The UVa men had an outstanding year, beginning with their performance at the Mid-Atlantic Erg Sprints, where they posted excellent times for a club level team (in fact, it was then that we published our first article on UVa and their chance to defeat Michigan this year). To win ACRAs, UVa defeated a very talented Michigan crew that won Dad Vails. Until 2011, Michigan had never lost in the MV8 at ACRAs. The UVa men then went on to make the semifinal in the Temple Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta, which is no small feat in itself. Add to this that the 2010-2011 season was only Biller's second year with the team, and that UVa's MV8 raced in the C Final at the 2009 ACRA Championship Regatta, and you begin to have some idea of just how far this program has come along. It's a program with a rich tradition that had stumbled in recent years -- Biller has brought it back into contention very quickly.


RoRys for Athletes of the Year

Lauren Wilkinson, Princeton
The Canadian had a very impressive senior year, stroking the Princeton varsity eight to an undefeated season, and helping lead the Tiger varsity eight to 27 consecutive regular season victories over the course of her career. She also won U23 Worlds as a member of the Canadian BW8 in Amsterdam this summer, by roughly three seconds over the field. This marked the first ever victory for Canada at U23 Worlds in that event. In addition to the above, she was the recipient of the 2011 Von Kienbusch award, given to the top female student-athlete at Princeton in across all sports. 2010-2011 year also included a win at the Head of the Charles.

Conlin McCabe, Washington
McCabe had a flat-out great season, beginning with solid performance at the HOCR, then winning Crash-Bs in an impressive 5:48 to become the first Canadian ever to win at the event. McCabe is a powerhouse, who reportedly set several Husky erg records this Winter. He had an impressive, undefeated season in the Washington MV8, and then went on to make the senior national team with Canada. He earned the first medal of his career at the senior world level in Bled this summer, and played a major role in the Canadian men's eight's success. He will be taking the 2011-2012 school year off to train for the Olympics in hopes of winning another medal.

Tomorrow on RR: The RoRys are announced for the top programs and talent at the Elite level -- around the international circuit with a view toward London!

-RR

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