FAIRFAX, Va. –
The George Mason University rowing program makes its annual trek to New Jersey for the loaded Knecht Cup this Saturday and Sunday.
Mason will put its Varsity 8+, Second Varsity 8+ and Varsity 4 boats up against some of the strongest competition at the nation with a chance to gain some valuable experience heading into the season's home stretch.
Fans can follow Saturday's heat and semifinal results on RegattaWorks.com. Finals will be held on Sunday.
"This is a hard race," head coach Ted Nagorsen
said. "The conditions are going to be tough. There will be west/northwest winds, which is a quartering tailwind. So our boats will be blown around a bit. All three boats have a chance to advance and this will be a good test to see how our athletes do against difficult competition."
Mason's Varsity 8+ boat will go up against national powers Miami (Fla.) and Massachusetts in their heat on Saturday at 10:53 a.m. Other teams in the heat include Army, Washington College and Philadelphia University. The top three teams from each of the five Varisty 8+ heats will advance to the semifinals, along with the remaining next six fastest boats.
"There's no way around having a tough race," Nagorsen said. "The team that wins this race is in a position to win their conference and win the Danville. That's how much speed is at this Regatta. It's an excellent midseason test. UMass and Miami are incredibly fast. We're going to have to race the whole body to advance. It will be a good test to see the maturity level of our crew. You can't take any team lightly."
The Second Varsity 8+ will look to build on improvements throughout the first month of spring competition in its opening heat at 11:21 a.m. Saturday. The Patriots will suit up against Bucknell, Fordham, Holy Cross, Loyola (Md.), Sacred Heart and Wisconsin LWT and look to keep equilibrium in a seven-boat race where a lot can happen.
The Second 8 had another good week of practice," Nagorsen said. "They didn't feel they raced well last week. If they produce like they've done in practice they'll advance. They have the speed, they're just young and need to continue to develop race experience. They have to keep their heads in the boat and focus on the task at hand."
Mason's Varsity 4+ leads off the day with a heat at 8:12 a.m. That boat will race against UMass, New Hampshire, Boston College, American and SMU.
"The Varsity 4 has been picking up speed, but they have a difficult progression to advance," Nagorsen said. "The goal is to advance to the semifinal. That's the priority. The conditions are going to be tough but I'm excited to see how we do.. We can advance and we'll be looking to take it one race at a time."
Saturday Knecht Cup Schedule
8:12 a.m. – Varsity 4 Heat
10:53 a.m. – Varsity 8+ Heat
11:21 a.m. – Second Varsity 8+ Heat
1:27/1:34/1:41 p.m. – Varsity Four Semifinals
3:40/3:47/3:54 p.m. – Second Varsity 8+ Semifinals
4:15/4:22/4:29 p.m. – Varsity 8+ Semifinals