Thursday, April 12, 2007

Knecht Cup Preview

Windermere is big, but the biggest race of the weekend is in Camden, NJ at the Knecht Cup. Knecht has become the most important non-championship regatta for lightweights and this year's version is no exception. The conflict with Windermere has removed Princeton, and possibly UCF and Stanford from the mix, but at the end of the day Sunday, we'll have a much better idea of who's fast and who's not.

We'll start with the light fours. After my brush with greatness on Monday (aka email to the race director), an "inside source" must've contacted officials because the heat assignments were redone. The heats look to be more fair and, while Heat 1 is possibly the weakest, I don't see anyone with a free ticket to the grand final. In the first heat Villanova, Georgetown, Duquesne, Susquehanna B, and Buffalo square off. Although they lost to Radcliffe, Georgetown seems the obvious pick here, but second isn't so easy. Duquesne has beaten Dayton, not exactly a slouch crew, while Buffalo beat, and finished a close second to, a fast Tulsa four in a scrimmage. Susqhehanna B is an unknown (but slower than the A boat) and Villanova was 5th at Murphy and lost to the UConn four. My guess is that Georgetown and Buffalo make it into the grand.

Heat 2 has Lafayette, UConn, George Mason, Radcliffe, and Wisconsin B. I'd say Radcliffe is the top pick, helped by their 17 second victory over the Hoyas a few weeks ago. This heat is the first time a Wisconsin boat will have raced this spring, so we don't really know how fast they'll be, particularly a B boat. They won't be slow. UConn has a 34 second victory over Villanova under it's belt, while a young Lafayette crew was 4th at Murphy, about 4 seconds ahead of Villanova. George Mason is unknown to me. My guess is that Radcliffe makes the grand with UConn and Wisco B fighting it out for the second qualifying spot. I'll go out on a limb and pick UConn as the second qualifier.

Heat 3 may be the fastest heat, with Sacred Heart, Carnegie Mellon, Wisconsin A, Pitt, and Susquehanna A. Again, Wisconsin is untested but we all know they'll be fast, particularly their A boat. Pitt, which won Murphy Cup, is tested and they are fast. Meanwhile, I think Carnegie Mellon gets the Hard Luck Award as they're in a two to move heat with two of the fastest boats in the regatta. CMU was second at Murphy Cup so they have some speed, but will it be enough? Susqhehanna, third at Murphy, is in second place for the Hard Luck Award. They've no doubt gained some speed since Murphy, but they'll need to have gained quite a bit to move on to the grand final. Sacred Heart, 6th at Murphy, will no doubt be hanging on for dear life in this one. I see Pitt and Wisco moving on to the grand.

In the eights, Dayton, Wisconsin, Buffalo, Temple, and Radcliffe B face off in Heat 1. This will be the debut of the Wisconsin eight and, although there are some good boats in this race, I expect them to be in control, working to stay safely ahead of the field while expending as little energy as possible. This won't be as easy as it may seem. Buffalo has already beaten Dayton by 8 seconds over 1500 meters, a loss that will help spur Dayton on. Radcliffe's 2V has shown speed with a victory over Georgetown's 2V. A young Temple boat will learn what it's like to play with the big girls. The schedule says three boats move on to the grand final, and my guess is Wisconsin, Buffalo, and Radcliffe, although Dayton could pull this one out.

Heat 2 will show us Lehigh, Georgetown, Radcliffe A, and Duquesne. We won't have to wait long for that Radcliffe-Georgetown rematch, but this won't be it. Both boats should pull away from Lehigh and Duquesne and unless bravado takes charge they won't be racing each other to the finish. Lehigh and Duquesne won't exactly be over the horizon, although I expect Lehigh will take the third qualifying spot.

Saturday finishes up with the frosh lightweight eight. Philadelphia, Radcliffe, Wisconsin, Princeton, and Georgetown are entered. The Radcliffe boat that dominated in the fall has one victory under its belt over Georgetown, while Princeton has beaten MIT and the Bucknell heavies. Wisconsin is untested but always fast. As for Philadelphia - Yo Philly! Welcome to your first varsity season! (I love to see new programs get their feet wet in races like this. It shows them what they can do with some hard work. And sometimes, you find a new program that has already put in the hard work, and they surprise everyone - this is a frosh event after all.) You've got to give the favorite label to Radcliffe, but I think this race is wide open.

The Princeton and Wisconsin (at least) frosh eights are also entered in the heavy frosh event. Unfortunately, just like last year, they are both in the same heat.

The finals are Sunday at 7:30am for the four and at 10:30am for the eight. (The times tell me that the Knecht Cup HAS NO IDEA what they have here.) Saturday looks like a decent day, weather wise, but Sunday looks like trouble. With wind and rain forecast, we may be lucky to have early morning races.

We have one of the best weekends of the season coming up. In the eights, we look forward to Wisconsin's debut and the Radcliffe-Georgetown rematch, while the fours will tell us just how fast Pitt really is. Rain or shine, it will be a great series of races.


Anonymous said...

what happened to princeton's light four?

JW Burk said...

I don't know the answer to your question for certain but, given that they're taking two eights to Windermere and the freshmen are racing in two events at Knecht, that can't leave a lot of rowers available for the four.

Anonymous said...

MITs ltw 8 is racing Umass' ltw8 on the charles sat.

Anonymous said...

Radcliffe and Wisconsin both missed finals