Going into the EAWRC Sprints on Sunday, May 15th, the race would seem to be for second place behind Wisconsin. The Badgers of UW have convincingly handled all of their EAWRC foes this season, with their closest race coming on April 11th at the Stanford Invitational against Princeton, which UW won by three-quarters of a length. The Badgers passed their final test of the regular season with flying colors, defeating Radcliffe (along with MIT) by almost 10 seconds, on a May 1st road trip to Boston.
All of that said, UW head coach Erik Miller is making sure that his crews don't get ahead of themselves. "We don't pay much attention to seeds or rankings. Definitely with the success our team has had the last few years everybody gives us their best race. Everybody wants to beat Wisconsin," says Miller. "Throughout the winter the team has to push themselves each day, and each person has to give her best on each workout. The final rankings will be determined based on the results of the final race, so performing well on race day is what is important."
Princeton would indeed seem to be the top challengers to Wisconsin. Princeton's only loss is to Wisconsin and the Tigers also reversed their 2009 defeat to Radcliffe, claiming that dual by half a length. In addition, the Princeton Lightweight Women have defeated Georgetown, MIT and Bucknell on the season, giving them a boost of confidence headed into the championships. The only question mark on Princeton might be their three-week layoff between the Radcliffe race on April 24th and Sprints on May 15th.
Radcliffe is hot on Princeton's tail however, and with the race against Wisconsin to whet their appetite and sharpen their edge, the Black and White might be the crew gaining the most momentum between May 1st and Sprints. The Radcliffe Lights have been the crew most steadily gaining speed since the early season, with their close loss to Princeton and a competitive finish behind to west-coast power Stanford the only negative marks on their ledger. Radcliffe has defeated Georgetown and Buffalo on the season.
Georgetown, who has fielded very competitive Lightweight Women's crews in recent years, is also on the premises but doesn't seem quite able to match the speed of the top three crews in the Varsity Eights race. The good news for Georgetown is that they have a deep team, and were able to take the 2V8 and 3V4 races against Princeton on April 18th, a clear indication that the Hoyas may have some speed to gain in the home stretch of the season.
With three-quarters of a length between Wisconsin and Princeton, and Radcliffe only 4 seats off Princeton as of May 1st, the Sprints have the potential for one of the more exciting Lightweight Varsity Eights finals in recent years. In all, there will be four lightweight women's events contested at the EAWRC Sprints in 2010; the Varsity and Second Varsity Eights, the Varsity Four, and the Novice Eight. A quick look at the season's results would seem to indicate that it will be tough for any crew to break through the UW juggernaut.
"I think that at Sprints every crew is dangerous," continues UW's Miller. "It is tough to say who the top competition is. If you look at the results from the last three years, everybody has been competitive. I think that any of the Sprints teams can beat us on any day. In the end, you have no control over the speed of the other crew, so all you can do is have your best race each time you go down the course and hope it will be fast enough to be successful."