Minnesota swept at home by Wisconsin

Many of the team’s boats dropped time in the meet despite losing every race.

Minnesota rowers Meredith Kelly, Joyce Jollands, Lauren Gonsalves, Madison Koch, Lauren Miller, Allison Sterneman, Kersten Schwanz and Emily Appold compete against Wisconsin in the second varsity eight race on Lake Phalen on Sunday morning.

Joe Sulik

Minnesota rowers Meredith Kelly, Joyce Jollands, Lauren Gonsalves, Madison Koch, Lauren Miller, Allison Sterneman, Kersten Schwanz and Emily Appold compete against Wisconsin in the second varsity eight race on Lake Phalen on Sunday morning.

Mike Hendrickson

Wisconsin swept Minnesota in all seven races Sunday at Lake Phalen, Minn., in the final tune-up before the Big Ten Championships May 14.
 
 
The meet marked the third competition in a row where the Gophers saw the No. 11 Badgers. Minnesota’s boats made big improvements this time around despite not winning a race.
 
 
“It’s kind of a mixed bag,” head coach Wendy Davis said. “The more I think about it, the more satisfied I am with the results.”
 
 
The closest race of the day was between Minnesota and Wisconsin’s second varsity eight boats.
 
 
The Gophers were behind by a boat length at the 1,000-meter mark but pulled closer in the final half of the race to lose to the Badgers by 3.9 seconds.
 
 
“For the first 1,000, we were kind of struggling to figure out how to deal with the tail wind,” second varsity eight coxswain Meredith Kelly said. “It clicked going into the final 1,000. … We were just excited to see how we had closed the gap.”
 
 
Minnesota’s second varsity eight boat lost to Wisconsin by 6.8 seconds just one week ago.
 
 
The first novice eight also showed improvement. It lost by 14.3 seconds against Wisconsin a week ago but lost by 4.4 seconds on Sunday.
 
 
“[The first novice eight and second varsity eight] are our two strongest boats in each category,” Davis said. “I was pleased watching them.”
 
 
Minnesota’s biggest loss of the day came in the third varsity four race. The Gophers lost by just less than 46 seconds. 
 
 
The last race of the day came between the two first varsity eight boats. Minnesota lost the race by 12.1 seconds.
 
 
“The main thing we need to work on is being relaxed and not tensing up when a boat comes out way ahead of us,” first varsity eight first seat Lisa Weeks said. “Just remain calm and row our hardest.”
 
 
Davis said the first varsity eight boat had looked a lot better in practice the day before, but the group has struggled to perform throughout the season in races.
 
 
“The race started, and it was three steps backwards [for the first varsity eight],” Davis said. “They just haven’t learned how to tap into it at the right time.”
 
 
This was the final regular-season race for the Gophers, who now have two weeks off before heading to the Big Ten championships in Indianapolis. 
 
 
The Gophers placed fifth in the championships last year.
 
 
“Margins are kind of closing, so it’s nice to see all the hard work we’ve been putting in has started to really show,” Kelly said.
 
 
The Border Battle Regatta was the first home race Minnesota has had in two years.
 
 
“I can’t even begin to tell you; it was so wonderful,” Davis said. “You get to sleep in your own bed the night before. … It’s just so nice to have 300 to 400 of your fans there.”