Better late than never! The 2013 ACRA National Championships are nearly underway on Lake Lanier, Georgia, with expanded, eight-lane finals sure to make for exciting racing once again this year. Here are our thoughts on what'll happen this weekend:
Men's Varsity Eight
Cavalier seniors Scott Stuard and Jonathan Furlong will be looking to set the record straight after a sixth place finish at Dad Vails, while Michigan State's Mike Slopsema and the Spartans are hoping to back up their excellent performance in Philadelphia with more hardware in Gainesville. Wolverine junior Louis Schaljo and the Michigan men's varsity eight are coming off a win at ECACs, and Grand Valley, led by RR interviewee Justin Wegner, has a tough squad, and more experience than last year's campaign—the Lakers will be battling for a podium finish this year after just missing at ACRAs in 2012.
Women's Varsity Eight
Senior Carey Mankins is on a mission to lead her Lakers to the promised land, while 2012 Under-23 World Champion Amanda Elmore and the Boilermakers will be looking to upset a GVSU crew that won Dad Vails by roughly 9 seconds over the field. The Gauchos from Santa Barbara will be looking for the first-ever podium appearance in the varsity eight at ACRAs, and we think this is the year. New Hampshire may also be in contention for a spot on the podium.
Men's Second Varsity Eight
The Wolverine second varsity eight has had an outstanding season, including wins at both Dad Vails and ECACs—we see that trend continuing in Georgia this weekend. North Carolina placed third at SIRAs this year, and they're not hurting for horsepower—Ryan Searcy has been racing in the second varsity eight this season despite going sub 6mins for 2,000m on the erg. However, it's more than likely that Searcy will be racing in the varsity crew on Lake Lanier, so we're taking the Boilermaker lightweights to place third in this event. Bucknell will also likely be in contention for a medal.
There are only four entries this year in the women's second varsity eight, so we've not included full picks for that event; however, we are taking GVSU to win the event convincingly.
Men's Frosh Eight
Orange Coast College
Pat Gleason's OCC Pirates have had a very strong season, including finishing ahead of Oregon State at Crew Classic in April. Virginia is our favorite to top the podium, after a solid second place finish in Philadelphia, roughly 7 seconds ahead of Michigan.
Click here for a look at the ACRA coaches' poll. Best of luck to all crews racing this weekend!