Minnesota rowers prep for Hawkeyes

The Gophers had a two-week rest and are ready to get back in the water.

The women's rowing team practices on the Mississippi River on Tuesday afternoon in preparation for their competition against the University of Iowa on Sunday, April 27.

Chelsea Gortmaker

The women's rowing team practices on the Mississippi River on Tuesday afternoon in preparation for their competition against the University of Iowa on Sunday, April 27.

Jack Satzinger

The Gophers won just one race in their last regatta.

This weekend, after two weeks off, they’re focusing on making sure that doesn’t happen again.

Minnesota will travel to Iowa City, Iowa, this weekend for its last regatta of the month and its second-to-last competition before the Big Ten championships.

Gophers senior coxswain Rachael Rogers said the team knows it needs to improve on its previous performance.

“These past couple races, we haven’t been exactly ourselves,” Rogers said. “I think what we want to focus on is having a good race.”

Minnesota has emphasized technique leading up to this weekend’s races.

Gophers head coach Wendy Davis said one key point of technique has been lengthening the stroke — keeping the blade in the water longer by leaning further back in the boat.

“We want to stay long through the water so we can get as much out of our stroke as we can,” Rogers said.

Minnesota has also spent ample time trying to get its fitness level back up.

Davis wants her team to start peaking physically in time for the Big Ten championships. She said she would like to see her team get to a stroke rate of 35 strokes per minute.

“We wanted to make sure we got some good volume in,” Davis said. “It’s time to bring the rate up.”

Though the team is fresh off an extended bye week, it saw its fair share of hardships preparing for Iowa — two minor injuries have shaken up the lineups.

Gophers sophomore Jessica Flakne is not practicing this week after spraining her ankle, and freshman Sonia Dunklebarger has also been sidelined. Davis said both are questionable for Sunday’s contest, but she expects Flakne and Dunklebarger to race.

Mari Sundbo, usually a member of the first varsity four, practiced with the first varsity eight this week to account for Flakne’s absence.

The Gophers’ first varsity eight features a diverse set of rowers, from veteran Rogers to sophomores Lisa Weeks and Sara Scarbro.

“They haven’t completed their first varsity racing season yet,” junior Lynn Hodnett said. “Then you’ve got people like the seniors that have been around and really know what they’re doing.”

Rogers said personnel changes are not ideal at this point in the season, but she’s confident her team can work through the adversity against the Hawkeyes.

“It makes my job a little bit more interesting,” she said. “When the lineups get switched around like that, it really depends on the way the rowers respond to it.”