Tuesday, February 06, 2007

2007 Season Preview - University of Dayton

As in-state rival Ohio State begins its first season under a new coach, Dayton begins its last season under coach Mike Farrey. Coach Farrey tells me that the first race he'll likely race a light eight will be the Knecht Cup (unless someone shows up in OakRidge during spring break). There are, however, two races scheduled for Dayton prior to Knecht.

On March 24th the Flyers race Duquesne, followed by Cincinnati, Indiana, and Eastern Michigan on the 31st. Last year Dayton's lights raced as the 2V in the latter race so perhaps they'll get some racing in this year as well.

On April 14th the Flyers head to New Jersey for the Knecht Cup. This is a critical race for all of the obvious reasons, and even more so for Dayton. Coach Farrey will look to this race as an early indication of where the light eight stands. A dismal showing here could mean a shortened season for the boat. A dismal showing, however, is not something I expect. This is a relatively early race and I would be surprised if Dayton didn't at least show enough speed to make the rest of the season interesting. last year the Flyers made the grand final, finishing sixth, a result which turned out to be a pretty good indicator of where they would end the season.

A week after Knecht comes the A10 championships. Dayton is the defending A10 champion, having bested URI last year. With URI's possible demise, it's not clear who could step up to challenge Dayton. This is an unfortunate situation for this championship because many teams who boat a light eight early (e.g. St. Joe's and UMass) have often decided by this point that they can't be competitive and don't enter, leaving what looks to be a shallow field. In reality, the A10 championships are a self selected field of the A10's best (I'll have more on this phenomenon in a later post).

Following the A10s, Dayton heads to Philadelphia for the Dad Vail on May 11th. Dayton is also the (two-time) defending Dad Vail Champion and here's hoping there's a nice lightweight field for Dayton to take on this year. Following Dad Vail comes IRAs at the end of the month. Last year was the second time Dayton raced at IRAs (2001 was the first that I know of) and they finished 8th, an excellent way to end the season.

Dayton has five athletes returning from the IRA eight and three returning from the A10 and Dad Vail eight. The Flyers are young this year and will be looking to a senior and two juniors for leadership. Coach Farrey expects the speed of the boat to depend on how well the sophomores step up.

Dayton has had some good seasons these past couple of years and Coach Farrey should be proud of what he's done with the program. I think Dayton has played the lightweight game just right. During the season they race lightweight when they can and make a point of racing the championships. As a result they are defending A10 and Dad Vail champs. In earlier years they realized that they weren't ready to have an impact at IRAs and raced where they could be competitive, gradually building up their reputation. Although there will be up and down years, they are now ready to seriously challenge for a spot in the grand final at IRAs. Dad Vail programs measure themselves against the Flyers and IRA programs know better than to take them lightly. Despite their youth, I expect that Dayton will continue to uphold their reputation this year.

(Calendar updated)

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