Minnesota falls to Ohio State, then sweeps Rutgers

For the first 500 meters of the first varsity eight’s race at Ohio State on Saturday, the Gophers were right with the top-ranked Buckeyes. 
 
But as time passed, Ohio State showed why it has won the past two NCAA championships,  powering past Minnesota for a 16-second victory. 
 
“Obviously, it was disappointing because we wanted to hang on as long as we could,” junior coxswain Taylor Gainey said. “Our start was really strong. … They slowly started to inch away from us.” 
 
Minnesota was swept by Ohio State on Saturday but turned around and beat Rutgers in all of its afternoon races, cementing its place as a team in the middle of the Big Ten’s pack. 
 
Heading into the weekend, head coach Wendy Davis said she felt like her team was right below some of the conference’s powers like Ohio State and Wisconsin.
 
Minnesota didn’t face the Badgers in any races Saturday but did watch them race. 
 
Seeing Wisconsin up close gave the Gophers a preview of the team they will see early next month in a rivalry dual. 
 
“They were fast, and it’s kind of scary when you compare their times because you just think, ‘Oh, they’re much faster right now.’ But it’s hard to know because every race is different,” Gainey said. “I think we’ll definitely be close to them. It’ll be a really close race.”
 
Last week, senior Lynn Hodnett said going up against an elite opponent like Ohio State would be a tough mental test.
 
But for the most part, the Gophers held their own. 
 
While the Gophers’ first varsity eight lost to Ohio State by more than 15 seconds, they showed improvement since the last time the two teams faced one another.
 
When the Gophers competed at the Big Ten championships last May, the first varsity eight lost to the Buckeyes by more than 20 seconds. 
 
“We’re applying what we actually did in practice, so I think that was really good,” Gainey said. 
 
Minnesota’s first varsity four put on one of the best performances of the day, losing to Ohio State by only five seconds. 
 
“I think it’s really cool,” Gainey said. “It was really, really exciting to see that.” 
 
After racing Ohio State, Minnesota finished on a high note against conference newcomer Rutgers. The Gophers cruised, winning each race by more than 10 seconds.  
 
“Those races were good. We felt really confident going into them, and it’s good that we did how we expected to do,” Gainey said. “It was good to come back and have that really solid race.”