Despite little time in water, Gophers rowing attempts to hit stride

Minnesota started the season with a first and second place finish at the Cardinal Invitational.

Jack White

The Gophers women’s rowing team faces adversity early in the
Spring season.

Minnesota cannot practice in the water year round, because of the
state’s weather, but the team competes against colleges in warmer states that
practice outside all year.

“On top of not getting water time, we also have people who really
don’t have that much rowing experience,” said senior Catherine Ahrens. “We’re
mostly made up of walk-ons.”

The Gophers practice on the Mississippi river when the weather is
warm. Ahrens said the team benefits from practicing on the river.

“When we do go out on the water, we have all types of
circumstances [like] huge waves, anything working against us,” Ahrens said. “We’re
more adaptable once we get in those situations.”

Minnesota started the fall season strong. The Gophers earned
victories in all three races in the Head of the Mississippi regatta in the
first competition of the 2016-17 season.

Minnesota traveled to Boston for its next meet. The Gophers
finished 16 out of 33 teams in the Head of the Charles Regatta.

“A lot of those women haven’t even been on the water a whole year
yet,” said head coach Wendy Davis. “Yet, they’re coming against teams that have
Olympians and national champions.”

The Gophers bounced back to start the Spring season. The team’s Varsity
A finished in second on Saturday morning and first on Saturday afternoon at the
Cardinal Invitational.

“Throughout that whole weekend, we were focusing on our technique
and trying to improve the little things,” said senior Haley Bagley. “We have a
very young crew, so sometimes the technique falls a little short.”

Minnesota lost senior Taylor Gainey to graduation last season.
Gainey earned All-Big Ten honors in 2016. However, Minnesota returns one of its
all-conference rowers, senior Anna Greene, who earned first-team honors last

The Gophers are coming off a season where they finished in sixth
place out of eight teams at the Big Ten Championships.

Minnesota has several “novices” that row for the team. These rowers
have no prior experience in the Sport.

“This year, on our top boat, we have three people who were novices
last year,” Davis said. “That’s the most we’ve ever had.”

Minnesota’s next meet is the Doc Hosea Invitational in Cherry
Hill, New Jersey.

“We’re just starting out,” Davis said. “The women have been
working really hard and they’ve been very focused in practice.”