Wednesday, February 20, 2013

IRA and ACRA Rowing Programs: RR Picks and Predictions for 2013

Cal and Washington at the 2012 Pac-12 Championships (Photo: B. Kitch)
 IRA Men

1. Washington
Our top pick for 2013 is Washington. The Huskies are stacked, feature an Olympic silver medalist in Conlin McCabe, and recently showed that (despite their relative youth) they are nails, walking away from Cambridge on the Boat Race course (for more on that crew, click here). At this point in time, UW boasts the best program top to bottom—they are loaded and will be hard to beat in any event. Still, there are new challenges for Washington: the departure of Luke McGee and the new freshman rule may make the frosh event an interesting one this year.

2. California
If anyone is going to upset Washington in the varsity eight this year, Cal might just be the one to do it—the Golden Bears have great top-end speed. Led by a strong Serbian talent in Jovan Jovanovic (a sophomore who stroked the eight in the fall and is a Serbian U23 and junior national team member), fellow Serbians Igor Lucic and Luka Dordevic (U23 world champions) and Ivan Ostojic (also a top Serbian junior national team talent), the Bears will be eager to reclaim their usual place on the podium at IRAs after a fourth place finish (some five seconds back of the lead crews) last season. Australians Matt Dignan, Michael Bernius and Louis Snelson, as well as British athletes James Scott and Stephen Tuck should make an impact, while Kiwi Isaac Holden will also look to crack the Cal varsity eight this season. Cameron Klotz (a former U.S junior national team member) and 2013 Crash-B champ Christian Kader will also be battling for spots in the varsity eight this season.

The Cal freshman class includes British JNT members Harry Kelly and Morgan Hellen, Dutch junior national teamer Nick van Sprang and American JNT alum Jordan Vanderstoep, all of whom will be looking to make difference on a Bears squad with increasing depth.

3. Harvard
Harvard had a great 2012 season, falling just shy of our pick for an IRA championship—though it took two crews breaking the previous course record in Camden to deny the Crimson last year. While they graduated standouts Mike DiSanto and Patrick Lapage in 2012, the 2013 squad will be led by seniors Kiwi James O'Connor, Aussie Josh Hicks, and American Parker Washburn. Though we also expect big time contributions from a strong sophomore class that features Australians Charlie Risbey, James Medway, Abdrew Emmett, Lachlan Hanbury-Brown and Alex Uruchurtu, American JNT member Max Meyer-Bosse, and Brits Ed Rippon and Josh Bernstein.

4. Brown
We know Paul Cooke's squad will be tough and very fit. These guys are not going to back down from a challenge and expect to be back on the podium in 2013 after a very impressive season in 2012, upsetting our top pick, Harvard, at both Sprints and IRAs. Juniors Vyacheslav Chupryna, Martin Asphom, and Morgan Gerlack return from last year's very quick varsity eight, and they'll look to lead the new campaign alongside Carter Aronson, Quinten Richardson and Anders Weiss. The Bears have a lot of depth—and a lot of very competitive guys. There will be some serious seat racing going on that will leave them with two very fast eights this Spring.

5. Boston University 
Tom Bohrer is building a contender—the Terriers were already showing signs of that last year—and this year we're expecting them to move up a notch in the rankings. Great coaching, combined with  hardworking athletes with a chip on their collective shoulder has this program on the rise, and that trend will likely continue into the foreseeable future. Also, a little horsepower never hurts—Matt Given just went 5:56 at Crash-Bs, while teammate Kyle Peabody posted a 5:58.

6. Yale
Yes, we've been backing the Bulldogs since Gladstone's move East, but the 2013 frosh rule means that G-stone has an entirely new (and international) varsity eight if he wants. Let's face it—if you were to look at this roster at Cal in 2000, you'd pick them to medal. The Bulldogs will benefit from upperclassmen leadership Tom Lynam, Zach Johnson, Aussie Harry Picone and Owen Symington, and South African Jon Morgan. This group will be complemented by German sophomore (and junior world silver medalist) Clemens Barth, and German freshman Hubert Trzybinski (a two-time junior world champion, 2011 U23 gold medalist and 2012 U23 silver medalist in the single), Aussie sophomore Simon Keenan (two-time Henley champion) and Kiwi freshman (and 2011 junior world silver medalist) Adam Smith.

7. Northeastern
The 'other' Huskies have definitely benefited from a nice influx of funding since Northeastern cut their football program, which has meant more in coaching salaries, more scholarships and more top-notch equipment. They feature a very talented roster with a mix of domestic and international talent. American Under 23 national teamer Justin Jones (who stroked the varsity eight last season) will be one of the leaders of a squad that will also benefit from the contributions of internationals from Brazil (Francisco Mendes), Canada (Ryan Rosts, Colin Schaap and Steve Komadoski), New Zealand (Riordan Morrell), Germany (Eric Winkert), Serbia (Svetislav Pejcic), Croatia (Matej Herega) and Scotland (Cameron Buchan).

8. Princeton
The Tigers had a strong performance at the HOCR this year, and had a solid season in 2012, finishing seventh at the IRA Regatta. British rower Michael Evans will be a strong leader in the boat, while Aussie Timothy Masters, American powerhouse Jason Kopleman, and former U.S. JNT members Patrick Eble and Patrick Konttinen, (the latter of whom is just a freshman) will look to be difference-makers this year.

9. Syracuse
Head coach Dave Reischman continues to do a great job, and will be looking for another strong year after a very impressive fifth place finish in 2012 at the IRA. Former U.S. JNT member and senior, Mason Leasure is among their most experienced oarsmen. Canadian Sophomore Patrick O'Shaughnessy-Hunter will also help the varsity eight this spring as will fellow sophomore Cameron Bierwith.

10. Cornell 
Big Red placed ninth last year at the IRA, and will be looking solid for another top-ten finish this year, but may lack the top-end speed necessary to crack the grand final. Jim Rectenwald will be a stalwart in the varsity eight for the third year in a row along with Kevan Zadeh, and two-time U23 national teamer Chris Massey. We also expect strong contributions from Jim Allen and some of the other sophomores. Freshmen Greg Davis and Ned Benning (JNT alumni), along with Arik Torkelson, have entered the fold, meaning that Big Red has plenty of juice in the frosh class—all signs indicate that the future is bright for coach Kennett, and given the new rules, they may surprise a few people this season.


ACRA Men

1. Virginia 
Head coach Frank Biller has built what could become a true ACRA league powerhouse to rival Michigan, but so far, despite depth and great top-end speed, a Dad Vail title in the varsity eight has proven elusive for the Cavaliers. However, for the past two seasons, the Virginia varsity eight has delivered at the ACRA championships, and we think that trend will continue this year. Sophomores Forrest Brown and Nick Hine will look to break into the 2013 varsity eight after rowing in the frosh eight last year. Steven Lee-Kramer and Scott Stuard will be among the more experienced upperclassmen along with Jon Furlong back for his fifth year after redshirting in 2012 in order to go to the U23 World Championships for the U.S. in the lightweight single. Ian Feeney and Garrett Thomas will also look to contribute.

2. Michigan 
Gregg Hartsuff's teams are always solid from top to bottom, made up of good racers & hard working athletes, and this year will be no exception. Michigan could pose a challenge UVA, especially in the lower tier boats—remember, Michigan has won the team points trophy every year at ACRAs since the championships were created, and took top honors in the second varsity eight and bronze in the varsity eight last season. The Wolverines graduated many seniors after the 2012 season, but this is where Hartsuff earns his money. Stephen Lanham and Louis Schaljo will look to lead the varsity eight, while Matt Herbers will attempt to jump straight from the frosh eight to the varsity this year.

3. Grand Valley State
John Bancheri's program is on the rise. After a Crew Classic victory and a narrow miss of the podium at ACRAs last season, Justin Wegner will lead a talented and experienced crew that is well coached, looking to unseat Michigan as the fastest crew in their state.

4. Bucknell 
The Bison had a great finish to their season last year (second at ACRAs in the varsity eight) and a talented group again this season. In just his second year at the helm, coach Al Monte will look to Connor Corwen, Ryan Lum and sophomore Alex Moore to continue to build speed. We are sure these guys are working hard in Lewisburg this Winter preparing to prove themselves once again this Spring.

5. Boston College
BC have been building momentum, this is head coach (and Trinity alum) Geordi Coffin's fourth year—the Eagles had a solid season last year, including a fourth place finish in the men's open eight at Crew Classic, and a ninth place finish at ACRAs in crazy nine-boat final—just over 11 seconds off UVa's new course record time. The squad will be led by rowers Keane Johnson and Kevin Bielawski.


ACRA Women

1. GVSU 
John Bancheri's women's program is the best from top to bottom in the ACRA league at this point—we're looking for them to defend their ACRA title from 2012. The GVSU women will be led by seniors Carey Mankins and Jordan Hart, juniors Kylen Pattermann and Shelby Welbaum, and sophomores Kaitlyn Van Boven and Courtney Panter.

2. Purdue 
The Boilermakers will be led by senior standout Amanda Elmore, who was in the American U23 women's eight that won gold at the 2012 U23 World Championships in Trakai, Lithuania. Purdue will also benefit from the contributions of Maggie Busse, junior Andrea Baffes, and sophomores Julia Snyder, Maddie Kovarik and Alicia Newcomer.

Look for New Hampshire, Penn State, and UCSB to round out the top five again this season at ACRAs, with Penn State a possible wild-card for a medal.

-RR

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