Sunday, May 14, 2006

News Flash: Lake Mendota Has Thawed

Sprints VL8Wisconsin won its second straight Eastern Sprints title at the Cooper River today by 6 seconds over Radcliffe. Georgetown followed 3 seconds later with Princeton fourth, another 7 seconds back. The Badgers followed their annual springtime rite, losing early in the season and winning later, when it counts. The finish of this race was nearly set at 500 meters in as Wisconsin grabbed the early lead, followed by Radcliffe, then Princeton and Georgetown. The Hoyas passed Princeton in the middle 1000, but no one was going to catch Wisconsin. They rowed powerfully down the course, all crews rowing around a 35, and never seemed to be in danger of relinquishing their lead. Radcliffe hung with them for a while, but with the inevitability of death and taxes the Badgers opened on the field. If Radcliffe wasn't prepared for Wisconsin's speed, they learned early what a mistake that was. Georgetown, meanwhile, seemed to have only one thing on its mind - Princeton. They smelled blood in the water on Lake Carnegie and meant to go for the kill on the Cooper.

Speaking of Princeton, schadenfreude was the order of the day. Georgetown, who may have never beaten the Tigers, celebrated as if they had just won the gold. Radcliffe, avenging an earlier loss to Princeton, looked awfully happy for second place. Princeton, working on winning the Sybil award at the end of the season, had a row so bad that it defies explanation. For the Tigers, this race was like Paula Radcliffe's Olympic marathon. It was like the New Zealand women's pair's heat in the Athens Olympics. It was Mitch Williams pitching to Joe Carter. Somebody else showed up in Black and Orange, and there's no point in trying to figure out who it was. There was a wounded tiger along the Cooper today, and a lot of people were poking it with a stick. Just don't turn your back as you walk away.

In the fours, Princeton's "Rule of Four" won, taking what is the closest we have to a lightweight four national championship. The Tigers were 4 seconds ahead of Radcliffe, which was 3 seconds ahead of Princeton's B boat. MIT, Wisconsin, Radcliffe B, and Georgetown rounded out the field. Princeton's four ends the season undefeated. MIT, continuing its strong season, dropped back a bit from Knecht, but was only 4 seconds out of second place.

Sprints NL8Princeton also won the frosh eight, finishing 7 seconds ahead of Wisconsin. Another 7 seconds back was Radcliffe, followed by MIT and Georgetown. The Princeton frosh were undefeated among lightweights this year, losing only to three heavyweight boats at the Knecht Cup, 50 minutes after racing the lightweight frosh final. At one point in this race, the announcer actually said Princeton picked up a boat length in ten strokes - that's a power ten!

So, to no one's surprise, we leave Eastern Sprints with a reordered V8 ranking. The good news for everyone but Wisconsin is that now we head into the one race that counts the most. It's October baseball - a new season with the power to wash away everything that's gone on before. The carnival stops at the Cooper one more time and anything can happen. Throughout the season there are polls and rankings, rivalries and revenge, but in three weeks we discover what is real and what is not. Wisconsin will enter IRAs with the pressure of the "favorite" label, Radcliffe will enter with the pressure of trying to prove it really is back, and Georgetown will enter with the pressure of being favored for bronze. Oddly, Princeton may be in the best position of all - underdog.


Anonymous said...

didn't wisconsin win by a 6 seconds?

JW Burk said...

Yes, you're right. Not sure where I got the wrong time. Corrected now.

Anonymous said...

rumor on the street is that Georgetown did what most boats do for IRA's - they bumped up all of their best novice to make their varsity boat as fast as can be -- hence the very slow novice boat -- looking at wiscos line up their varsity stroke seat was their novice stroke seat at knecht cup, perhaps wisco did the same thing georgetown did

Anonymous said...

What happened to Princeton? How can they get two fours on the podium, but come in fourth in the eights' race?

Anonymous said...

you used "schadenfreude"!!
i've never since/heard anyone use that since i learned it a few years ago.

JW Burk said...

Sometimes little comments like that make it all worthwhile!