Sunday, May 20, 2007

IRA Notes

The MIT press release that came out last week noted that this year's Sprints was only the second time MIT has fielded a light eight in the event since becoming a varsity program. It also says that the novices will be in the mix for the IRA boat. Slowly but surely MIT is making steady progress in building the lightweight program. Their schedule includes the best the league has to offer so progress isn't always obvious, but it's there. Given a bit of time, MIT should be regularly challenging for Sprints medals.

Some readers wondered if UCF would have all of its lightweights available for the IRA even if the heavies are going to NCAAs. I said that according to NCAA rules I thought they would have everyone available other than any lights in the varsity boat (the only boat invited), but a reader responded by saying that rumor has it that UCF instituted their own rule barring heavyweight rowers from crossing over to lightweight for the IRA. The reason, apparently, is that the coaches don't want these athletes to worry about maintaining their weight during the heavyweight season for IRA. A short note from the hypocrisy file is that in larger scholarship programs there is often a great deal of pressure on "light" heavyweights (and often normal heavyweights as well) to gain weight. While I don't know if this is true at UCF, the notion of not worrying about weight often simply means that these women are encouraged to put on weight.

Another reader noted that these NCAA rules on how many championships a rower can race is one area where the NCAA has it right. I tend to agree. If you don't race the category all year you shouldn't race in a championship for that category. This is, however, a bit more problematic for lightweight women because the category is trying to grow and often happy for as much competition as possible. This kind of rule, of course, would exclude a boat like Bucknell. [Update: See reader comment disputing this, although it's not clear what "NCAA rules" have to do with lightweight rowing.]

Some readers have expressed confusion over the selection criteria for the IRA fours race. I agree that as stated there did seem to be a mix of purposes, but for this first one, I'd cut the organizers a bit of slack. Although it wasn't explained this way, it seems to make sense to me if you view the invitations as simply going to those boats that have won championships. By including smaller or "developing" school championships you get the broad range of fours available. I admit that the selection criteria for the "IRA programs" was somewhat less clear and the lack of a light four at Sprints will create problems in the future. Once some of the various champions were unable to make the event, the invitations did not revert to a "developing program" criterion, and shouldn't have. While there was not much of a drop off in speed going to Dad Vail silver medalist Lawrence, to continue to move down through that field would start to miss the point of the IRA. If the event continues, surely the only criterion can be victories in major regattas, since the IRA is not about simply providing a venue for a couple of races.

As other readers have noted, this year's event will not settle any questions of the fastest four in the nation. Some schools had scheduling conflicts due to the late notice (most notably Pitt), while it's not clear that the Sprints schools will be boating their top fours. Some of these schools may be using the event as a "development" race of their own. More important though, is the fact that this race is being staged at all. This is a huge step and, as another reader has noted, lightweight women beat lightweight men to getting a fours race at IRAs. That is a big deal.


Anonymous said...

Bucknell raced lwt events three times this year, as required by NCAA rules. vs. Temple on March 31, vs. Radcliffe 2vl on April 7 and versus Susquehanna in two fours, on April 26.

Anonymous said...

The way I understand it, every effort was made to include the non-sprints league schools who were dominant in their leagues. This being the first year, the timing just didn't work for everyone who was invited...

I think the NCAA "rule" mentioned in the previous comment has to do with the number of coaches allowed to a program... If there are not 3 races, there is not a program... therefore the additional coaches are illegal (a heavyweight program may only have 3 paid and 2 volunteer coaches)

Anonymous said...

i am sure those 3 races had fairly strict weigh-in procedures for LWs. i think the intent of the ncaa rule is to race in more than just a dual.

Gold IRA said...

schedule includes the best the league has to offer so progress..