Saturday, May 16, 2015

Championship Weekend in Rowing: Sprints, Big Tens, Pac-12s, Oh My!

Pac-12 bling (Photo: B. Kitch)
Championship Weekend is here in the U.S., and there's no shortage of fantastic racing from coast to coast at this very moment. Here's our breakdown of the action, plus resources to stay on top of all the racing.

The below video comes to us from Columbia University's lightweight men's program, who, after moving consistently up the ranks of the Sprints league over the past several seasons, will enter the racing tomorrow as Cornell's toughest competition in the varsity eight, based on their regular season results this year. While we initially ranked Columbia at no. 3 overall in the preseason, the Lions have shown that their second go-round under head coach Nich Lee Parker has the promise to be even better than the first—it'll be very interesting to watch tomorrow as Eastern Sprints take over Worcester, Massachusetts (look for the live video feed here).



On the heavyweight side, our preseason no. 3, Yale, has had their second-consecutive undefeated regular season, and will enter Sprints as the top seed. However, they'll likely face very tough challenges from Greg Hughes' resurgent Princeton Tigers, as well as the Brown Bears—all of those early and midseason losses for the Bears are partly a result of their brutal training regime, which seems to always have them ready to rage when it matters most. On the women's side, at the Ivy League Championships, we're looking for Brown (our no. 1 overall in the preseason) to come up big and punch their ticket in style for the NCAA Championships, while Princeton will also be a team to watch on the Cooper River.


Meanwhile, in the Midwest, Big Tens will see the back-to-back NCAA champion Ohio State Buckeyes look to win their third-straight conference title, while Michigan and Indiana will also field strong crews in tomorrow's varsity eight final. Looking to the South, Dave O'Neill's Texas program (RR-ranked no. 9 in the country) is currently dismantling the Big 12, winning their heat in the varsity eight by 21 seconds, and going undefeated for Saturday heading into Sunday's finals.


(That's Hartmut Buschbacher with O'Neill, by the way.)

Turning our attention to the West Coast, the Pac-12 Championships will feature four of the nation's top seven teams in the NCAA field, with RR overall no. 1 seed California coming into the racing undefeated in the varsity eight. While our prediction is that Cal will stay undefeated in the 1V, the Washington Huskies may just have enough across the board to take the team title in Sacramento.


On the men's side, the no. 1 Cal Bears will face off against a Washington varsity eight that bounced back from a loss at the Cal-UW Dual with a great performance against the New Zealand national team, tracking the Kiwis all the way down the course en route to a two-second defeat (and moral victory) for the program. Again, while we're giving the nod to Cal in the varsity eight, it looks like Washington's depth may again deliver them a team points trophy, but both of those programs are firing on all cylinders this spring—it will be great to see how they match up with the best of the East at IRAs.


Last, but certainly not least, the ACC Rowing Championships saw RR no. 5 Virginia sweep the NCAA events en route to the team title, with Notre Dame taking second in the points ahead of Syracuse. The victory was the sixth in a row for the Cavaliers, who also bounced back well from a close loss at the Windermere Cup in Seattle to punch their tickets for Sacramento with authority.

Keep an eye on our Twitter feed and Facebook page for more updates through the weekend, and tag your Instagram photos with #rowingrelated for a chance to be featured!

-RR

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