Third-Seeded Heavies Set for Eastern Sprints
The Radcliffe lightweight and heavyweight crews face dramatically different contests Sunday at the Eastern Sprints on Lake Waramaug in New Preston, Conn.
The lights confront only one other crew. Smith, in their bid for the championship, while the heavies will face 14 teams.
After a sluggish start, dropping races to Princeton, Dartmouth and several Western crews at the San Diego Crew Classic early in the season, the heavies blasted by Yale and Brown in their final two races. These victories shook up the Eastern rankings and moved Radcliffe of three notches from seventh to third.
The Black and White are seeded behind favorite Wisconsin and undefeated Princeton going into the Sprints. The heavies will compete in the strongest heat, which include-14th ranked Radcliffe Rutgers, eighth ranked Yale and fourth ranked Dartmouth.
"We are cautiously optimists, says Co-Captain Jenny Hale. "Going in third we have the toughest heat."
Radcliffe fell to Dartmouth a regular season competition by four seconds and must capture first or second in the heat to qualify for the final.
The new 2000-meter course length, expanded this year from 1500 meters, has caused inconsistent and unpredictable racing results from even the best crews. For instance, Yale defensed Dartmouth, and Dartmouth defeated Radcliffe--but Radcliffe destroyed Yale by more than 10 seconds.
"The 2000-meter length has made the whole process variable," says Radcliffe Coach Lisa Stone. "All the crews are so mercurial."
As underdogs, this factor of unpredictability will be to the heavies advantage against the powerhouse crews of Wisconsin and Princeton.
Barring divine intervention on Smith's behalf, the undefeated Radcliffe lights will claim the lightweight championship in season competition the Black and White triumphed by a 10-second margin.
The lack of competition in the lightweight division is a result of a dearth of funding and enthusiasm for lightweight programs at Eastern colleges Coach K C Dietz says the most difficult part of the season is finding races.
"It's very sad and discouraging," says the second-year mentor. "We have a fast crew and no one to race."