Tuesday, February 28, 2006

2006 Spring Preview - Georgetown University

Georgetown is in a position similar to Stanford except that, well, it usually beats Stanford. Nonetheless, it's been bouncing around the bottom of the top five crews (mostly at four) for a few years and needs to break out. Unlike Stanford, however, the program has had a few changes recently, changes which may shake things up just enough. For years Jimmy King tried to coach both the heavies and the lights with the result, believe it or not, that the heavies seemed to come up with the short end of the stick. A year ago Georgetown split the lights away from the heavies to form their own program with King's assistant, Rebecca Besant, as head coach. Besant soon left (to go to Africa, I believe) and Georgetown hired Jim O'Conner to take over the program. That's where we stand now, with a new coach and a new hunger to win on the Hilltop.

Georgetown begins what it hopes will be its spring feast at the Jesuit Invitational. Last year only St. Joseph's contested the lightweight eight event with the Hoyas and I expect they'll do so again this year. This is a race I'm anxious to hear about because although I think Georgetown should take it, St. Joe's is capable of a surprise. There may be other crews racing, such as Holy "Blue, no Yelloooow" Cross, or perhaps Fairfield, but it will be a Georgetown/St. Joe's race. Two weeks later comes Radcliffe and MIT in Boston. Another good race as it's early in the season and Georgetown will have had the benefit of racing Jesuits while Radcliffe will have raced at Windermere. Prime time for an upset here. This race, by the way, is not listed on Radcliffe's schedule but, given that it has a name (the Class of 2004 Cup), I assume it will be raced. While not up to Georgetown/Radcliffe speed, MIT is coming along and should be closer to these two boats then in the past. A week later comes the big party at the Knecht Cup. Before the month is out the Hoyas will race Princeton and Wisconsin again in dual races. May brings the Sprints followed by the IRAs in June.

Georgetown has a good schedule this year, meeting the traditional powers several times as well as a few crews on the next tier down. Rumor has it that Jim O'Conner is working the women hard and is serious about winning some major races. I don't know if this is the year Georgetown will move into the top three, but I'm pretty sure that at the end of the season Radcliffe, Princeton, and Wisconsin will know that they are facing a new and improved Hoya lightweight crew. They knocked off Wisconsin last year, providing what may have been the shock Wisconsin needed to get in gear and win IRAs. This year, if any of the Big Three take Georgetown lightly, they'll be in for a big surprise.

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