Tuesday, February 13, 2007

2007 Season Preview - Bucknell University

As we preview Bucknell, we enter the rarefied air of the IRA grand final. With a 6th place finish at IRAs last year, Bucknell is coming off its finest season ever. With 6 of the 8 IRA rowers returning, this spring brings both high expectations and high potential.

Bucknell gets its first taste of action on its spring training trip in Georgia, as they're scheduled to race Alabama on March 10th. Alabama does race lightweights, but it's more likely Bucknell will come out as the 2V for this race. Two weeks later, on March 24th, the Bison head to Philadelphia for the Murphy Cup which will no doubt see the lightweights racing again as a 2V boat. On March 31st Georgetown is on the schedule in Philadelphia. Georgetown's schedule isn't out yet so it's not clear if this is a heavyweight or lightweight race. If the lights go at it, this would be a fantastic early season matchup as Bucknell tests its progress while Georgetown will try to assert its dominance. I have a funny feeling this will be only heavyweights, but it would be a great opportunity for both schools to get their full squads racing together.

After Georgetown comes a race at Princeton on April Fool's Day. Last year Bucknell had an excellent race on Lake Carnegie which turned out to be a good measure of the Bison's potential. I suspect Princeton will be ready for this race this year. The next weekend Bucknell heads to Rhode Island to race URI and Boston College. If URI can put out a light eight this would be another nice opportunity to get both teams racing together, but that seems unlikely. The next two weekends are William Smith at home and Princeton/Penn/Dartmouth at Princeton. These are heavyweight races and any lightweight action will be as a 2V boat. On April 28th a race against Penn State and Susquehanna at home is listed, followed by the Patriot League Championship on the 29th. I doubt the same boats will be racing both events so we'll probably see the lights racing as a 2V boat again at Patriots.

On May 5th are ECAC Metros. I still don't know the difference between ECACs and ECAC Metros, but I think we can guess that Bucknell will race again as a 2V boat. The IRAs come along at the end of the month.

In a schedule loaded with heavyweight races and frequent relegation to 2V status, The Bison get in at least one excellent lightweight race against top competition at Princeton, and possibly a second against Georgetown in Philadelphia. Other than the Princeton race, however, we learn little about Bucknell until IRAs. This year will be more informative than last, however, because we know how the boat did against 2V competition last year compared to how it eventually fared at IRAs. A noticeable absence on this schedule is Dad Vails, although Bucknell typically raced as a 2V, preferring to shoot for a JV heavyweight medal rather than a varsity lightweight medal. This absence is interesting, however, because there is no other race on the schedule for Dad Vail weekend.

Bucknell has made great strides over the past several years. In only its second year at IRAs (its first was 2004), the Bison made the grand final and beat the eventual silver medalists in the heat. In my season preview last year, I said that "I also expect Bucknell to make a run at IRAs." Of course, making a run this year is a given and as long as there is no loss of focus on the lightweights, I think the Bison should be challenging for a medal. (Calendar updated.)

(For the voyeur in you, take a look at some Bucknell erg times. Some of the lightweights raced as heavies.)

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