|The famous finish line tower at Lake Lanier (Photo: A.J. Brooks)|
At the beginning of the spring racing season, we made some predictions as to who would make the podium on the men's side this year, and we weren't far off. However, there were two notable performances that saw programs moving up the ranks in Gainesville, and busted up our picks for the grand final—and congrats to them! (Of that, more later.) And, while the Michigan Wolverines continued their streak of success this spring, it was no easy task.
The Wolverines, who looked to be clear favorites heading into the ACRA Championships after such strong showings at both Dad Vails and the NICR/ECAC Championships in Worcester, did not disappoint, but as you can see from the video above, the Cavaliers did in fact close the gap from Philadelphia (you never can tell from the results on the Schuylkill), as did Grand Valley State, who will have been disappointed to finish fifth in Philly, but very pleased to bounce back on the 1996 Olympics course. When all was said and done, it was RR preseason no. 2 Michigan crossing the line first in a time of 5:45.40, preseason no. 3 Grand Valley taking second in 5:46.70, and preseason no. 1 UVa claiming the bronze in 5:48.29.
Men's Varsity 8 being announced before the medals dock in Georgia! #LakerNavy #ACRA2015 2015 pic.twitter.com/nk0AcnrMxf— Grand Valley Rowing (@gvsurowing) May 24, 2015
And, as we alluded to above, there were some notable finalists that should have been on our radar earlier. The fourth-place finisher in the men's varsity eight in Gainesville was UNC Chapel Hill—a great result for the Tarheel program after missing the final in 2014, ahead of our no. 4- and no. 5-ranked teams in UC Irvine (finished fifth overall) and UC Santa Barbara (finished sixth). Not only did the Tarheels take fourth place, but they also beat UVa in the semi en route to the grand final, though this may have had to do with an equipment issue for the Hoos. Another crew that battled their way to the grand final was Purdue, who edged Notre Dame by just 0.3 seconds in the semi to punch their ticket for the medal round.
As predicted, Delaware's lightweight eight made the grand, but our no. 7 and no. 8 teams, Boston College and Bucknell, were edged in the semifinals and had to be satisfied with ninth and 11th overall, with our no. 10-ranked crew, Washington State, placing—you guessed it—10th overall. Last, but not least, our no. 9-ranked crew, Orange Coast College (novice eight) also didn't disappoint, as they took first place in the novice event in a time that looks to have reflected their ranking among the varsity crews. (NB on the above: This was our first edition of RR rankings at the club level, but going forward we will likely stick to only varsity crews being ranked to avoid confusion—also, 2Vs from UVa, Michigan, UCSB would have been in the mix here as well.)
Meanwhile, on the women's side, our predictions for ACRAs played out just as planned, with Grand Valley State defending their national title once again—though it was their toughest test yet! The Gauchos of UCSB nearly dethroned the Lakers, but couldn't quite edge their bowball in front at the line, falling by just one tenth of a second to Grand Valley (6:42.90 to GVSU's 6:42.80), with Purdue taking the bronze roughly two lengths back of the leaders.
Also worthy of note: The men's and women's varsity fours races boasted dramatic finishes, with UC Davis, UCLA, and Vermont battling to the line on the men's side with just one length between them, while the women's fours saw Cincinnati take top honors ahead of Vermont and Emory, respectively, and separated by only 1.47 seconds from first to third.
For full results from the ACRA Championships, please visit the official website of the American Collegiate Rowing Association.
More to come this week from the collegiate ranks as we get ready for the varsity-level championships, with IRAs taking over Mercer and NCAA Championship action in Sacramento!
Keep it locked!