Rowers stay home this weekend to host regatta

David La Vaque

Saturday’s Twin Cities All Comers Regatta, which will kick off Minnesota rowing’s 2001-2002 season, is not the event it has been in the past.

The regatta, formerly known as the Head of the Mississippi, will feature the Gophers, St. Thomas, Macalester and two local clubs rather than out-of-state universities, but Minnesota is still looking forward to starting the year in the Twin Cities.

“It’s great to be at home, especially for the first regatta,” said junior Beth Hornby, who was voted second team All-Big Ten last year. “It’s not going to be as big as planned because a few big teams from outside won’t be attending. However, there’s going to be a lot of parents and friends to watch, so it should be a good one to come see.”

The Gophers are looking at the competition as a tune-up for the rest of the year. They will participate in four more regattas in October before resuming the season in March. It is their only in-state race before 2002.

“Although everybody’s going to be racing on our squad, it’s really a chance for the novices to find out what racing is all about,” second-year head coach Wendy Davis said. “We’ll race three varsity eights, but the boats are going to be basically even. We won’t put out a fastest, second and third fastest boat.”

Davis said she is expecting this season’s team to improve from last year’s group. Last fall, Minnesota fielded its first varsity rowing team since 1986.

The Gophers started last season slow and finished sixth in the Big Ten championships in the spring.

“Where we ended up last year was the bottom of the B group nationwide,” said Davis, who led Yale to four top-five rankings from 1993 to 1997. “I would like us to end up being in the top of the B group or maybe the bottom of the A group. If we can get to the bottom of the A group, maybe we can snag ourselves an NCAA invitation. That’s a huge long-shot, but it’s not impossible.”

Minnesota returns two All-Big Ten rowers, Hornby and first-team honoree Amber Riopel, as well as several rowers from last season’s novice and varsity teams.

“We are night and day compared to last year, so it’s a lot of fun to coach them this fall, especially when I think back to where we were at this time last year,” said Davis.

“Last year’s varsity was all club rowers that had moved over. This year it’s those same people that didn’t graduate plus last year’s novices, who had the advantage of learning the style that I wanted them to learn. The club people had to unlearn what someone else wanted.”

Since the varsity boats will be composed of rowers who have already raced together and been coached by Davis, the Gophers’ strengths should be their technique and teamwork.

“This year our technique has improved a lot,” Hornby said. “Last year we started out not so well and a few of us were novices. Now that we’re coming back, we know more of what to expect … This team is a lot stronger. We know each other a lot more and, as far as team cohesion goes, we have a lot more of that.”

Stordahl leads golf victory

Minnesota women’s golf captured the Lady Razorback Invitational title Tuesday, as junior Karyn Stordahl earned her first collegiate medalist honor.

Stordahl was the top individual finisher, finishing 10 strokes ahead of the nearest competitor. As the Gophers top player entering the tournament, she led after each round.

The team and medalist titles are the first for the Gophers this season.

Next up for the Gophers is the Shootout at the Legends in Indiana beginning Oct. 8th.