U rowers

David La

When the men’s rowing club hit the water to compete last week, they went in already quite wet behind the ears.
The team participated in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Collegiate Championship Regatta in Camden, New Jersey, May 27-29.
The rowers were seeking a fourth straight title in the Varsity 4 with coxswain. But the group succumbed to a tougher-than-expected field and finished fifth.
Minnesota’s disadvantage was further compounded by having too many fresh faces in the boat.
“What we had in there was a first- and two second-year rowers, so we were real short on experience,” coach Tom Altenhofen said. “We were very happy with the results because it was a really good field.
“The fact that we’ve now had an inexperienced crew out there placing fifth at nationals is a hell of an accomplishment.”
If a team is winning, reasons for potential failure are not looked at closely. Now that the rowers are coming away without a trophy, however, the need for addressing the state of the team is a concern.
The season’s apex is the IRA championships, allowing the rowers to compete against a wealth of east coast powerhouse teams. But leading up to the IRAs, the Minnesota rowers only get to gauge themselves against considerably weaker Midwest competition. When the uninitiated arrive to take on the best, they might not be ready for the challenge.
“The freshman in particular found out this was the World Series,” coach Michael Nicholls said. “Everything up to this point was minor-league baseball.”
Though they did not finish at the top once again in the Varsity 4 with coxswain, the team was credited for its resolve, and the coaches are taking refuge in that for now.
“There isn’t one boat that got off the water and thought they could do better,” Altenhofen said. “They got off the water feeling they did their best, and that’s all you can ask for.”