Sunday, June 03, 2007

Bucknell Ends Wisconsin's Streak

Proving the old adage that the devil you know is better than the devil you don't, Bucknell won the national championship by 3.5 seconds over second place Princeton. Wisconsin was another 1 second back, followed by Radcliffe, Stanford, and Georgetown.

In a race that, while still close, sorted itself out surprisingly quickly, Princeton and Bucknell fought a seesaw battle through 1000 meters. Through the third 500 Bucknell began to assert itself and once Princeton hit its personal dead zone - the sprint - the Bison pulled away to take the crown. It would surely be a compliment to say that Bucknell rowed a Wisconsin-like race - entering the lead pack early, allowing one or two other crews to believe they have a chance, and finally closing the door on the field through the last 500. Wisconsin occasionally threatened to make it a three boat race, but was never quite able to pull back until the very end.

As Bucknell and Princeton entered the last 500 meters, the Bison, with half a length or so lead, must've felt confident of the win, knowing the Tigers' problems with the sprint. Anyone who watched Princeton in a close race over the last two years knew what would come next - rushed slides and short strokes - as they lost ground to Bucknell ahead, and saw Wisconsin charge up their stern. If Princeton could fix this flaw, they'd be truly dangerous. Bucknell, meanwhile, showed no such flaws as they rowed a clean race from start to finish, looking as strong in the last 20 strokes as they did in the first.

MIT once again took the petite final, a nice turnaround from where the Engineers' season seemed to be headed just a few weeks ago. Ohio State finished after MIT, followed by LMU, UCF, Long Beach State, and Lehigh. It was great to see three California crews make the trip east and when the IRA moves west, hopefully all of the eastern crews will reciprocate.

So the lightweight field grows even stronger and crowns a brand new national champion. After all of the lightweight haters had their say about the lack of competition a few weeks ago, it's instructive to compare heavyweight and lightweight championship finals. The times are remarkably similar. Eleven seconds separated the field at IRAs while seven seconds separated it at NCAAs. (In fact, Bucknell's raw time was faster than Yale's raw time. I point this out not to suggest that Bucknell is faster, only to further make the point that spreads were very comparable.) This is really quite remarkable given how the proliferation of heavyweight programs and the abundance of scholarship money has spread the talent around the heavyweight world. Any such dispersion of talent naturally results in more crews of similar speed, but lightweights have had none of that.

The 2007 season ends without controversy and with a clear cut, if surprising, champion in Bucknell. Princeton, whose season began so promisingly, comes away with a gold in the four (which surprisingly turns out to be the only gold won by any Princeton crew at a national championship race). Wisconsin and Radcliffe move out of the dreaded "rebuilding year" and become major threats on the horizon, as does Stanford. Georgetown remembers how difficult it is to follow up on success. Another season down, an even stronger one on the way.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Eatem' up Bison

Anonymous said...

Way to go Bucknell!!!!
You make us proud!

Anonymous said...

The IRA results should indicate the rankings. Now possibly the West coast teams left out of the top 10 will get some recognition. Both LMU and Long Beach are still building their programs. Both will be faster next year.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Bucknell!

Anonymous said...

Are IRA's moving west? When?

Anonymous said...

Wow!

Anonymous said...

'Ray Bucknell!

Anonymous said...

It's a shame to see so many sad faces on the awards dock every year.
Nobody anticipated or predicted Bucknells Two blistering Races, including themselves!
It was a two boat race and what a race it was.

Princeton might not have the legs to End a race “walking” past everyone in a 200 meter Finish Line Sprint, but what they Finally Found was enough to Hold off Wisco’s Notorious Finish line Sprint that seems like it starts from the 1500 meter mark and keeps gaining Momentum all the way thru the Finish line. The same one that has made it seem like everyone else is dragging an anchor behind them.
If that race was even 3 meters longer, they would have beat you bye just as much, that's how fast they were walking on you at during the last 5 or 6 seconds

So why the Sad Faces?

Everyone in BOTH heats should be Proud.
Congrats. Bucknell You earned it.

Pam said...

I would just like to say congratulations to the Bucknell girls. You girls worked so hard for this, and you definitely earned it. I am one of the lightweights who switched to the heavyweight squad from UCF. It was an incredible experience for us to row open this year, but trust me, all 6 of us were on the sidelines this year cheering everyone on. I'm so proud of our extremely young lwt8 this year (6 freshman, two of which brand new novices). In the next few years they will be up with the pack again, I know it! Good job to all crews this year, we really missed racing with you all. Lightweight rowing is something I will take with me, and thanks to all for the great memories!

Anonymous said...

yay Bucknell!

on an unrelated note, after a look at the mens varsity 8 results it's easy to see the high competition at IRAs and all the excitement it brings.

Rowing is an awesome sport, and what a good season this was.

Anonymous said...

So does this mean Bucknell is now a committed part of the lightweight community? Next year-will they race as lightweights during the racing season, or will they diet down at the very end again year? Or will they diet down at the end again? sorry to point to the elephant er..bison in the room... but what does this mean? I guess "pulling a Bucknell"-your phrase JW-is now considered a good thing? You have been critical of Bucknell in the past so what do you think now?

Anonymous said...

The women in the Bucknell boat rowed and raced at weight over the course of the spring season just like all of the other crews in the grand final. That is what the new IRA weigh-in protocol requires.

Anonymous said...

You can't just be a good sport and be happy for bucknell, can you? Instead, you have to come up with reasons why your race wasn't fair.

Anonymous said...

As a parent of a lightweight rower it infuriates me to see "light" weight rowing comprised by coaches. Sports is one of the greatest teachers of life's lessons and all Bucknell is fostering is "at all costs" a win is worth it. Glad my daughter didn't attend Bucknell and took the high road to "Georgetown" where lights row as lights, win as lights and lose as lights. Success at any price is not worth it Bucknell.