Gophers will use Double Dual as a test

Minnesota has been bitten by the injury bug early in the season.

Dane Mizutani

 

Minnesota will open its Big Ten rowing season this weekend with a Double Dual in Bloomington, Ind.

The Gophers’ first scheduled conference regatta at Iowa was changed to a scrimmage at the last minute because Iowa could not get a permit to race on the water.

This time around, everything is ready to go for a weekend, head coach Wendy Davis said, will serve as a measuring stick for the crew.

Davis said a lot of the crews in the Big Ten this year are faster than they have been in the past, but she said she thinks the Gophers are right where they need to be early in the season.

“I think we’re moving well, and I’m really looking forward to this weekend to see how we stack up against the competition,” Davis said. “It’s going to be a very informative weekend.”

Minnesota has battled through an injury-ridden first month in its first varsity eight after the same crew placed third two weeks ago at the Oak Ridge Invitational.

But the Gophers have the luxury of depth in 2012, unlike past seasons.

Davis said a lot of this depth comes from how well the recruited freshmen have transitioned to their first year of college rowing.

“[The freshmen] have stepped up, and … we’re excited about that because nobody really knows how their freshmen are going to perform,” Davis said. “They are doing an excellent job, and that’s a reason we are doing so well.”

Davis has stressed the success of the first varsity eight this season, but she said the second varsity eight and first varsity four will play a vital role in how the team will finish in the Big Ten.

Minnesota has already seen success with its first varsity four, as it was named Co-Big Ten Boat of the Week following its first regatta of the season.

The Gophers’ novice group, a week removed from the San Diego Crew Classic, will also get a taste of Big Ten action over the weekend.

Although this will be the first actual Big Ten regatta of the season, Davis said she’d prefer to see the team gradually improve its times instead of peaking in its first week of conference races. 

“We’ve had as much water time as we’ve ever had, so we’re finding our speed earlier in the season,” she said.

“But from a coaching perspective, if we load them up too much because we’re trying to get fast early, it can get messed up. If we put too much emphasis on this weekend, we’re going to pay for it down the line.”