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Cavs gear up for Rivanna Romp, last fall race

After a successful fall season so far, the Virginia rowing team will host its first home race - but last fall race - of the year Sunday at 10 a.m. on the Rivanna Reservoir. The Cavaliers will host ACC rivals Duke and Clemson as well as Ohio State, Syracuse and Georgetown.

This weekend's race is the fourth annual Rivanna Romp and the Cavaliers hope to take their fourth-straight victory. Last year the Virginia varsity and novice teams won all four events - the varsity eight, varsity four, varsity pair and novice eight.

"The varsity eight race is the big one," Virginia coach Kevin Sauer said. "OSU and Syracuse were both NCAA teams last year with us, and OSU beat us as a team at NCAAs. Something we're going after is to see if we can knock those guys off. It's a big race for us. Number one, it's at home, and it's also a great way to end the fall for us. Hopefully we'll come out on top. We still have a lot of work to do. But hopefully, by the end of the year - since spring is our main season - we'll be ready to go."

"Ohio State is coming in and they are one of the fastest teams in the country right now," sophomore varsity eight rower Jen Reck said. "Our goal is to beat them and if we could do that that would be a perfect way to end our season."

In the fall season, boats leave the starting point one at a time in 15-second intervals and go long distances. The race on the Rivanna on Sunday is two-and-a-half miles. In spring races, all boats take off from the start simultaneously and sprint 2,000 meters.

Ohio State finished ahead of the Cavaliers at the 2001 NCAAs. Virginia is hoping that the spaced starts will help its teams this weekend, as the Cavaliers will get to take off first in the race, just ahead of the Buckeyes.

"It's a big advantage," Reck said. "We have clear water, we don't have to worry about passing anyone, and we can see [Ohio State] the whole time since we're facing backwards. We just have to make sure that we increase the margin, or they're going to win."

So far this fall, Virginia has competed in the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston on Oct. 21 and the Princeton Chase on Oct. 28.

The Head of the Charles is the largest two-day rowing event in the world and is conducted over a three-mile course on the Charles River. The Cavaliers finished eighth overall and sixth among collegiate crews in the championship eight race and ninth overall and sixth among collegiate crews in the championship four race.

Virginia also entered the championship double for the first time at the Head of the Charles and finished 12th overall. Additionally, Virginia finished fourth in the youth eight competition, which is a race comprised only of first years.

"The Head of the Charles I was pretty pleased with," Sauer said. We "did pretty well. That's our huge race - there are probably about 250,000 people watching along the Charles."

At the Princeton Chase, held on Lake Carnegie, the Cavaliers won the open four race and finished fifth in the open eight race. According to Sauer, members of the Virginia varsity eight crew competed in the open four race as well as the open eight race. The open four race was earlier in the day than the open eight race, so the Cavaliers only had a short break between them.

Sauer said he was pleased with the Cavaliers' finish in both races, especially the open eight because the teams that beat Virginia in that race, including Princeton, Yale and Radcliffe, had saved their crews to race only in the open eight.

The Cavaliers' novice team also competed last weekend against Georgetown and George Washington on the Potomac, where it took the top three spots in a 10-boat race.

"Last weekend was a great start for the novice team's year of racing," Virginia assistant coach Kushlani de Soyza said. "We put together three pretty even boats and I was thrilled to see them come in 1-2-3. I think it's a real indication of depth on our team. Of the athletes on the novice team, about half have rowed before in high school. I think their rowing experience, combined with the athleticism of the walk-ons, has been a really good combination. I'm really looking forward to seeing them race at home."

On Sunday, Virginia's varsity eight will open competition at 10 a.m. The Virginia men's club rowing team will compete at 11, the women's novice eight team will start at 11:15 and the women's varsity four is scheduled to race at noon.

"I don't know if a lot of people realize, but this is our one home regatta," Reck said. "This is the only opportunity we have to be seen by our students. It's just nice to get some people out there cheering for you"

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