May 2, 2014
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - In its final competition prior to the American Conference Championship, the 17th-ranked Louisville rowing team will compete against No. 3 Ohio State and No. 9 Michigan on Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The Cardinals are slated to have six crews competing on Belleville Lake this weekend as the varsity eight, second varsity, varsity four, second varsity four, third varsity four and novice eight boats will be in action. While facing two of the nation's top programs, this weekend will also serve as a useful prep for the American Championship on May 18.
"This is the same group of boats we traveled to Iowa a few weeks ago and it's the same squad we'll take to the conference championship in two weeks," said Louisville head coach Derek Copeland. "This will be a great test for our team as we continue preparing for the championship season."
It will mark the second time Louisville has faced the Buckeyes this season after dropping a series of races against them in Iowa on April 12. The defending NCAA rowing champions, Ohio State has maintained its top five national ranking throughout the 2014 season. Michigan is hosting an event for the second time in three weeks and most recently earned wins over No. 5 Virginia and No. 10 Notre Dame.
"When we raced against Ohio State in Iowa, they handled the difficult rowing conditions much better than we did. This weekend will be a good test to measure our improvements since that weekend," said Copeland. "Michigan, like most other cold weather programs, gets much faster as it warms up and they've been very fast recently. Rowing against two top 10 teams, we have nothing to lose because we're trying to reach that level. We will see how we match up across the board against two of the best."
After struggling to find consistent time on the water for training earlier in the season due to poor weather conditions, the Cardinals have seen progress since winning five races at Clemson on April 19-20. There is also added depth in the Louisville program, which should allow them to compete at a higher level in all of the boats this weekend in Ann Arbor.
"For the first year ever, I think we can compete with programs like Ohio State and Michigan in every event without there being any type of major drop-off from one boat to another," Copeland explained. "They both have very good novice programs and our goal is get our novice program to that level, so this will be a great test for that group. Ohio State has won the varsity four title at the NCAA Championships the last two seasons, so they'll give us a really good indicator of our speed based on how we competed against them a month ago."
Louisville has also changed some of its lineups since it last faced Ohio State and since competing at Clemson. The most noticeable lineup changes are in the Cardinals' varsity eight and second varsity eight boats.
"We've been pretty consistent with our varsity eights lineups since the fall with only some very minor changes at time, but we've changed that up since Clemson," said Copeland. "We're using the same 16 rowers in the two boats, but the lineups look much different than what we've done in the past. Based on how those lineups compete this weekend, we will either go back to what we had at Clemson for the conference championships or we'll continue moving forward with the new lineups."
A complete recap of Saturday's racing action will be available here at GoCards.com.