New boat lineups struggle in Big Ten races

The Gophers won only four of the 13 events they raced in during the meet.

Minnesotas rowing team practices on the Mississippi River on April 22, 2014.

Chelsea Gortmaker, Daily File Photo

Minnesota’s rowing team practices on the Mississippi River on April 22, 2014.

by Mike Hendrickson

Head coach Wendy Davis didn’t like what she was seeing in practice the week leading up to Saturday’s race against Iowa and Indiana.
She tinkered with the lineups of some of the boats, but it wasn’t enough to pull off an overall victory against the No. 16 Hawkeyes and No. 13 Hoosiers in Solon, Iowa. No. 12 Wisconsin also participated in the Gophers’ first competition against Big Ten teams, but the two programs did not race each other.
“It was really different,” Davis said. “We didn’t have time to gel with the new lineups. We only had one-and-a-half practices to try and gel. It didn’t work so [well].”
The Gophers competed in 13 different races on Saturday and had only four victories. Two of the victories came from the second varsity eight boat, one of Minnesota’s most reliable boats this season.
Even the second varsity eight boat wasn’t immune to changes, though, as senior Sara Scarbro and junior Haley Bagley came over from the first varsity eight and junior Anna Cruse joined from the first varsity four.
“Even with [the changes], they were able to pull off the win,” Davis said. “I was pleased. On both races we were down in the first half of the race, but everybody kept their composure, even while they were rowing badly. They kept their composure and pushed through and were able to win.”
The first varsity eight did not perform well, losing both races to Indiana and Iowa by more than five seconds.
“Our morning race [to Indiana] was definitely a little rough,” said senior Jessica Flakne, the second seat on the first varsity eight. “But our afternoon race we made a lot of strides in our technique [and] our power, but we still have room for improvement.”
The first varsity eight won its heat last Saturday but lost in the finals to No. 19 Syracuse.
“I think yesterday we just kind of realized where we actually stand and what we need to work on now,” senior coxswain Taylor Gainey said. “We definitely weren’t ourselves.”
The only other two victories on Saturday for Minnesota came from its first and second novice eight boats against Indiana.
None of the varsity four boats had a strong showing, as Minnesota lost by more than 10 seconds in all but one race out of five.
Flakne said the Gophers would focus on maintaining their power through the middle 1,000 meters of the race in practice.
“We just need to maintain that higher key throughout the body of the race,” Flakne said. “Iowa, I believe, was at 36 reps per minute coming down the course. We for sure want to hit 35 if not a little higher.”
Minnesota has two weeks of practice to change its boats some more before their next race at the Big Ten/Big XII invite in Baboo, Wis. Davis said the team will likely practice at Medicine Lake, as the wind and current has made it hard to practice on the Mississippi River.
The results in Solon aren’t reason for panic, Davis said.
“It’s fixable,” Davis said. “I was talking with [novice coach Claudia Herpertz], and that was both of our opinion. It’s fixable.”