As for our pick of Western Washington, well, the Jacks of Humboldt State showed that a new era may have begun in DII women's rowing. The Jacks were the class of the field in the varsity four, finishing roughly nine seconds ahead of second-place Nova SE to win the event. In the varsity eight, despite the nerves that can come with a restart, and a new attack by Western Washington, the Jacks stayed loose, had confidence in their rhythm, and gradually reeled the Vikings in throughout the race, edging into first place in the final 250m and securing the title in the varsity eight and team points with a sweep. The victory for the Jacks ended a seven-year winning streak for WWU.
In Division III, Williams was as good as advertised, as Kate Maloney's program showed poise and depth, winning the 2V by a considerable margin and taking the varsity eight for the seventh straight time. It speaks highly of the athletes that they were able to adapt to a new coach (albeit a talented and experienced one), and continue to perform at the top of their game through the regime change. Needless to say, they were pretty Ephing excited (I know, I know–it's pronounced 'eephs').
Meanwhile, down in Georgia, the ACRA finals underway, and saw a few surprises in another increasingly deep field. Our pick for first place all year has been Michigan, and the Wolverines delivered at Dad Vails earlier this month, winning both the varsity eight and JV eight events. This time, however, history repeated itself, as Frank Biller's Virginia squad went from fourth place at Dad Vails to a second consecutive championship title at ACRAs in the men's varsity eight, breaking the course record in the process (NB: Lake Lanier hosted the rowing at the 1996 Olympic Games–Biller's crew rowed a 5:40.9 in tailwind conditions, besting the Olympic champion Dutch eight's previous record of 5:42.7 by nearly two seconds). Roughly one length back from UVa was Bucknell–the Bison had a fantastic regatta, also upsetting Michigan, who had to be content with third place in the varsity eight after the closely fought nine-boat final came to an end. Grand Valley State finished fourth, three tenths of a second behind Michigan and four tenths ahead of Notre Dame. The Wolverines pulled off an undefeated season in the JV eight, with a win over Virginia and GVSU in that order. Another of our crews to watch, Orange Coast college, edged UVa to win the frosh eight title, as well as the frosh four event.
On the women's side, our pick to win, Grand Valley State, did just that in convincing fashion, taking the varsity eight by roughly seven seconds over the field. Purdue, our pick for second, took silver in Gainesville, with New Hampshire in third place ahead of UCSB. The Lakers backed up their success at the varsity level with another win, this time in the women's novice eight, with a surprising crew from Middlebury taking second place overall.
Still to come: IRA 2012 picks and predictions–the polls close tomorrow!