Wednesday, February 15, 2006

2006 Season Preview - Bucknell University

The next season preview should be UCSB, but their coach tells me they won't be racing lightweights this season. Instead, rather than skip a spot, I'll cover a team that didn't have much national impact last year, but which I expect to have some this year - Bucknell.

Bucknell opens their season March 25 at the Murphy Cup in Philadelphia. Last year there was only a lightweight four event, although I suspect that some lightweight programs entered the heavyweight events. The lightweights, then, may have a chance to race there. This regatta is followed by a home race against Penn State, but the lightweights won't be there. It's too bad that doesn't work out because Penn State made some noise in the fall, winning the Head of the Occoquan and the Philly Frostbite. The competition may have been a bit suspect there, but a Bucknell/Penn State lightweight eight race would be a good early season race. Instead, though, the Bucknell lightweights travel to Princeton. That's a tough way to start the season. The Bisons are getting serious about lightweight rowing and this is one way to find out where they stand. I wouldn't be surprised to see close race here. Early in the season crews come along at different rates, often trying to peak at different times, and with differing goals for early races. (No one's goal, however, is to lose.) By the way, the schedule doesn't list the freshmen as traveling to Princeton. The Bucknell frosh boat that did so well at the Head of the Schuylkill contained mostly lightweights so a frosh lightweight race at Princeton could provide a surprise.

On April 8 is the Lake Wheeler Invitational. Last year this regatta had a light four race, but that was it. I can't tell if the lightweights are going to this or not. The next likely race for lightweights will be a home race with Buffalo. Last year Buffalo raced both a lightweight four and a lightweight eight so this should be more competition. At the end of the month is the Patriot League Championships, which do not have lightweight events. It's not clear to me why, though, since both Bucknell and Lehigh will be there, as will Holy Cross which considers racing lightweights every now and then.

May brings the Championship Season with Dad Vails, followed by IRAs in June. In UCF's absence, I expect Bucknell and Dayton to duke it out at Dad Vail. I may revise that opinion if someone like URI shows up, or Lehigh or OSU shows some real speed, but that's the way I see it right now. I also expect Bucknell to make a run at IRAs.

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