Editorial Look at the Top Teams of the ECCC
This is an editorial look at the team of the ECCC thus far in 2010. It represents no official opinions, just the thoughts and observations of the author. Just like everything in life, try not to take anything too personally or seriously. If you are interested in reading the authors thoughts on the earlier racing in the season, they are available on his blog (www.kingsully.blogspot.com)
It seems like just yesterday that it was the Friday before Rutgers and every team along the east coast was wicked fired up about racing bikes. Before you know it the season is already half way gone. Some teams are still firing on all cylinders, others are already hanging up their race wheels, because ‘they are focusing on summer racing’ (A crock and a cop out)
Even thought the first half of the season is always really exciting and has some great races in it, for the teams that are looking towards a high placing in the omnium, the next few weeks are crucial. Here is why
Bucknell: The foremost reason, it is Easter. A lot of people will be trading the comforts of the ECCC and long van rides for the loving embrace of their families. That means that the people who do go will have a relatively easier time of scoring points, yielding higher team scores, with fewer rider. The small teams with a concentration of good riders should find it easier to achieve high placing.
Also this is the farthest race for some of the New England powerhouse schools. Couple this with it being Easter weekend; I wouldn’t be surprised as all to see some surprises in the overall after this weekend. Look for a strong showing from a Pennsylvania team.
Yale: The racing available at this race is hillier than at much of the races thus far. Will this yield different riders at the front of the races? Will these changes be enough to change the way the points are handed out?
Army: I will share a little secret that I figured out, Army is one of the most important races of the season outside of Eastern. What?!? Why?!?!? Fair enough. Here is why: Army runs four events. This makes it the most valuable team point weekend outside of Easterns. It is worth double the number of points that the Columbia/Stevens weekend is. Think about that, it is huge for that very reason. The teams that rely on just one or two boys or girls to score a lot of points should really sweat this weekend. If they are sick then a whole boat load of points can disappear. I think that there is more to be lost by a poor showing than anything else.
Easterns: Obviously this is important, everything is worth double points. It is like they are having six individual events for team scoring. Huge separations can occur on this last weekend. This weekend promises to be exciting.
Where they at and what are are their prospects.
1) MIT (681 pts) The ladies of MIT have been knocking down the doors of the Women’s A/B race. Any one of three MIT riders is capable of winning a Women’s A race, and they had a women’s B rider in the mix last weekend. This has meant that on almost every event all season long they have been able to max out in women’s points. Their men haven’t been able to put up huge numbers in the team points category, but they don’t need to. Unless another team can put together a strong Men’s and Women’s presence, it will be really hard to dethrone the 2009 omnium winner. Note: this team has the women’s ‘Super Leader,’ Martha Buckley
2) U Penn (598) This is a relatively small team with a few really good riders. They have a strong presence in both of the men’s and women’s fields. Teams that rely on just a few riders for the bulk of their points are more susceptible to mishaps that can cost them a lot of team points. This hasn’t happened yet, and as long as their good luck (and attendance) holds they should be able to vie for a top 5 spot. The three teams behind them are very strong; I would look to see a good deal of jockeying amongst these teams as the season progresses. Note: Series Leader Max Korus is a rider on the U Penn Team.
3) UVM (582) I will disclose that this is my Alma Mater, I my heart of heart I hope that these guys can win, but it is a long tough rode for them. They are still plagued by a lack of a big strong women’s presence. Their men are strong and are usually able to take the top points in all of the men’s events, however the women’s team will only be able to scrap up a handful of points. The other teams are too well balanced for this to be a winning strategy. Rose Long came back to ECCC racing this past weekend, although she wasn’t able to make an overwhelming shift in the number of women’s points that were accrued. There are rumors floating around that two Nordic skiing women are going to show up in the A/B field, the question remains, will it be enough? The other problem is that the team’s points come almost exclusively from the men’s A race at this point. Precarious situation indeed, a mistimed lead out can scuttle the points from an event (see Steven’s Circuit @ FDR park). Note: Men’s Sprint Leader Alex Cox Calls UVM home.
4) Penn State (564) The Nittany Lion is roaring. Since I last wrote (after week two) these guys have made a comeback in a big way. I think this team is probably the best team in the ECCC right now, when they show up. They had a lot of riders skip the Columbia/Steven weekend. This definitely set them back a long way in the overall. On the flip side, they were able to win at Philly. At that race they also took the highest number of points this year. This signals that they have the strength to throw down, but they are a long way back. This is a large team, that is well distributed amongst the fields and is well represented in both Men’s and Women’s Races. I think these guys definitely have the legs to win the omnium. They just have to keep showing up, and bringing all their kids. They are the only team in the top 5 that has finished a weekend outside of the top 5 for that weekend.
5) Dartmouth (527pts) These guys and gals have been a huge revelation this season. A lot of riders have come out of the woodwork wearing green. Still a pretty small school, but there are some good riders. I confess that I wasn’t even watching out for the team as the season started, so I don’t have a ton to say about them.
6) Harvard (427 pts) Without Anna McLoon the points just aren’t there for these Ivy League Lads and Lasses. If she is at a lot of races maybe they can claw into the top 5.
7) Boston University (409 pts) The first two weeks of the season these guys and gals were the hot commodity of the ECCC. These past two weeks haven’t shimmered quite as bright. You know that the potential for these guys to put up big numbers is there, but it just hasn’t happened. We will have to see what happens in the next week or two.