March 27, 2014
East Lansing, Mich. - - Michigan State, which sits just outside of the CRCA national pre-season poll, heads east this weekend for a pair of races against some traditional powers as well as a future conference mate.
On Friday, MSU will line up with Boston University and Rutgers in New Brunswick, NJ. Rutgers will become a member of the Big Ten Conference next season, but is currently competing as a member of the American Athletic Conference (AAC). Friday's races will be held on the Raritan River, beginning at 6 p.m. and building to the varsity eight race at 7 p.m. On Friday, there will be three races: the varsity and second varsity eight, and a third race that will feature third varsity eights and novice eights. Without races for fours, the two Spartan boats will form one eight to participate in that 3V/1N race.
While the future Big Ten connection to Rutgers is certainly one storyline of Friday racing, another is close Spartan ties with the Boston University coaching staff: Stacey Rippetoe is in her fifth season as the head coach of the Terriers after serving as an assistant coach for the Spartans for eight years. BU assistant coach Paula Thoms (MSU `07) is also in her fifth season at BU and rowed for the Spartans for four years in the varsity eight, helping the team to a Big Ten championship in 2005. Like the Spartans, the Terriers are receiving votes in the CRCA pre-season poll.
On Saturday, the Spartans will line up with two of the premiere Ivy League programs, No. 9 Brown and No. 5 Princeton on Lake Carnegie. The Bears have won seven NCAA team titles, most recently in 2011, while the Tigers won varsity eight gold at NCAAs twice in the last eight years. On Saturday, the MSU/Brown/Princeton races will be sandwiched between Princeton heavyweight and lightweight races, which begin at 8 and 11 a.m., respectively. Women's racing begins at 9 am with the second four, and is on 20-minute centers, working toward a 10:20 start time for the varsity eight race.
This will be the first race of the season for all four Spartan opponents, and was supposed to be the first for MSU as well, but head coach Matt Weise got an early jump start for his team two weeks ago at the Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational. MSU picked up varsity eight wins over Tennessee & Kansas on day one, but fell to No. 3 Virginia and No. 16 Louisville in the second day of competition.
Head coach Matt Weise is looking forward to the weekend, as he feels it will be a good measuring tool for the team's recent training.
"We've been out on the water here in East Lansing, which is a huge step," said the coach. "When putting in miles on the erg, the athletes are used to individual responses. When you are in a boat and on the water, it has to be a crew response, with all eight responding in the same way. We saw it in Oak Ridge - everyone was working hard, but there were six, seven, eight individual responses. Training on the water, its allowed us to make positive strides and the athletes can develop that team response. It takes practice.
Overall, Im really happy with how the athletes have trained and feel like we have been very productive. Now, we just are getting to the point that our practices are as a unit instead of eight individuals on eight ergs. We can initiate and follow our race plans. I really think that as soon as that really clicks in, the speed will follow."
Friday, March 28 - MSU vs. Rutgers, Boston University
6:30 pm - Third Varsity Eight/First Novice Eight
6:45 pm - Second Varsity Eight
7:00 pm - Varsity Eight
Saturday, March 29 - MSU vs. Brown, Princeton
9 am - Second Varsity Four
9:20 am- Third Varsity Eight/First Novice Eight
9:40 am- Varsity Four
10 am - Second Varsity Eight
10:20 am - Varsity Eight
MSU at Rutgers with Boston University (March 28)
MSU at Princeton with Brown (March 29)