Sunday, February 05, 2006

2006 Season Preview - University of Central Florida

UCF will be a team to watch this spring. Except for a bad race at Dad Vail, they had a good season last year. Although during the season they lost to some of the same teams they lost to at Dad Vail, I don't think their 4th place finish there reflected their true speed at the end of the year. A drop from 6th (2004) to 7th (2005) at IRAs may not sound good either, but they got pipped by Stanford in their IRA heat and were relegated to the petites. Had they made the grand final they may very well have beaten Stanford. I think UCF is serious about lightweights and within a year or two they should be a model for how to become national players.

I have to say, the UCF schedule listing is one of the most uninformative listings around. Every race is a named race so no opponents are listed. The first four races listed are the Metro Cup (which I thought was with Rollins), the Rollins Invitational, the Rollins Tri-Meet, and the Spring Break Race. Sounds like a lot of racing with Rollins, which doesn't usually put out a lightweight boat. I guess we just don't know who they'll be racing, but given that I can't think of any Florida crews who can really give UCF a run for their money, I'll consider these races early season tune ups.

In early April UCF travels to Camden, NJ for the Knecht Cup. As I mentioned below, this has become a premiere race for lightweights and this will provide the Golden Knights' first real test. UCF doesn't race again for a month or so, when they head out to California for the Pacific Coast Rowing Championships. This race should give UCF an opportunity to avenge losses last year to Stanford and UCSB. Unfortunately this race takes the place of Dad Vail on UCF's schedule. There was only a five boat V8 race at Dad Vail last year so UCF will be sorely missed. It is good, however, to see some intense lightweight racing on the west coast and it does give the rowers a great trip to look forward to. UCF's coach came from USD which no doubt played into her decision to bring the team (heavies go too) to California. The PCRC is followed three weeks later by the national championship race at IRAs.

I have no doubt that UCF will belong at IRAs this year and I expect they'll be ready to put on a good show. It looks like last year's IRA boat only lost the coxswain to graduation so they should be at least as fast again this year.

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