No. 18 Indiana rowing will compete against the University of Notre Dame, Clemson University and Michigan State in the 13th Dale England Cup on Saturday at Lake Lemon. The Hoosiers enter having won each of the last four Dale England Cups and five total.
Of the teams competing this weekend, Indiana is the only one ranked in the most recent edition of the coaches’ poll. Clemson also received votes but did not crack the top-20.
The Dale England Cup will be Indiana’s first and only home competition of the season, and head coach Scott Peterson said he believes the rowers will benefit from their familiarity with the lake on Saturday.
“The home course advantage is just being comfortable with the lake that we're rowing on,” Peterson said. “It does have an impact on the athletes. We're trying to go there and perform to the best of our abilities and if you have distractions coming at you that you're not prepared for, that causes problems.”
The Dale England Cup is the only competition between the Big Ten Invitational on April 15-16 and the Big Ten Championships on May 15, which Peterson called “the two main events for the year.” Even though the races Saturday are not as important to the overall season, Peterson said he still wants the team to perform well and push themselves to improve.
“We're going to go out there and try and put forth what we think is going to be our best plan, our best race,” Peterson said “One more practice time before we go to Big Tens. So knock wood that'll go well and we execute everything the way we've been practicing.”
While all the lineups for the boats have been set for most of the season, Peterson said each boat’s strategy is still being finalized and tweaked heading into the final stretch. He said the goal on Saturday will be to make sure that each boat is performing to its maximum ahead of the Big Ten Championships in two weeks.
Because Indiana has already raced against Michigan State and Notre Dame this season, Peterson said it will be easy to judge how much of an improvement the tweaks make compared to previous races rather than just comparing times.
“Margins are considered somewhat constant,” Peterson said. “If you race in a tailwind and you lose to a crew by five seconds, and you race in a headwind and you lose to them by five seconds, then OK, you're five seconds slower than them. It's the margins really that we look at more than the actual raw times.”
The competition will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday and will feature six races: two Varsity Eight races, two Varsity Four races and two Novice Eight races. All four teams will compete in each race except for the Second Novice Eight, which will just feature Indiana and Michigan State.
Only the First Varsity Eight, Second Varsity Eight and First Varsity Four races will be scored to determine the winner of the cup. Each race is weighted differently, with results from the First Varsity Eight race earning twice as many points as the Second Varsity Eight race and three times as many points as the First Varsity Four race. If multiple teams are tied in point totals once all races have been completed, then the tiebreaker will go to the team that placed better in the First Varsity Eight race.