Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Eastern Sprints

After Dad Vail concludes, Eastern Sprints arrives on the scene Sunday in Camden, just across the river from Philadelphia. If you’re in the area for Vails, you’ve got an all rowing weekend in the making.

The upper end of the lightweight rankings will be competing, with one surprising new face – Brown in the light four. You don’t usually see boats of opportunity at Sprints, but Brown hasn’t exactly put out press releases about its new lightweight program, so that’s apparently just what this is. The field is eight strong, including Radcliffe and Princeton B boats. Also competing are MIT, Georgetown, and Wisconsin. Princeton has been winning races all year and should be the favorite in this race. At Knecht, MIT surprised the field and finished second so we’ll see if they’ve maintained that speed. Georgetown was relegated to the petites at Knecht and would no doubt love to redeem themselves here. After beating Radcliffe in the heat at Knecht, Wisconsin finished the final 0.3 seconds behind the Black and White and will not be anxious to have that happen again. Brown, meanwhile, is an unknown quantity. This race has some great storylines to make it more than a simple rematch, not to mention the newcomer thrown into the mix.

The novice eight at Sprints is a five boat final among MIT, Radcliffe, Princeton, Wisconsin, and Georgetown. The Princeton frosh have been the cream of the crop all season but with Wisco second at Knecht, they can’t afford to rest on their laurels. It can’t be said often enough that Wisconsin gets much faster as the season goes on and they’d surely get special Badger treats Sunday night if they could knock off the Tigers. Both Radcliffe and Georgetown have shown themselves to be faster than they were at Knecht in dual races with Princeton so they’re not exactly throwing in the towel. At Knecht, MIT suffered equipment breakage so their true speed is unknown. They’ll have some special motivation here.

The V8 field mirrors the frosh field with the exception of MIT. Although the V8s are ranked, and there is a number one, a number two, and a number three, the fact of the matter is that among Princeton, Radcliffe, and Wisconsin the race is a toss up, with Georgetown close behind. It’s obvious why that’s true between Princeton and Radcliffe, but I throw Wisco in there because of the speed they find every year around this time. While they don’t often win Sprints, they are defending this year and would love to make it two in a row. Radcliffe came off the water in Princeton disappointed with their race and feeling they can do much better. They’ll be out to prove it here. Georgetown remembers how close they were to Princeton at their dual, and are licking their chops at the thought of another shot at the Tigers. If they pass Radcliffe or Wisconsin along the way, so be it. All the while Princeton is getting less respect than any other top ranked boat. They dethroned Radcliffe but didn’t get all the poll votes for number one, cMax has them at number three, Georgetown thinks they can beat them, Radcliffe thinks they had their worst race ever and finished only 3 seconds back, and Wisconsin thinks they lose to them early and then beat them late every year. What’s a girl gotta do? Win two more races, that’s all. Princeton really comes into this race as an underdog and should be raring to go out and prove the doubters wrong.

There’s no toll going into New Jersey, only getting out. I’ll be crossing early to beat the traffic.

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