The unusual spring weather has been a blessing and a curse for the Gophers women’s rowing team.
Cold weather has limited snowmelt into the Mississippi River, allowing the team to practice on the river almost every day.
“Because the river has opened up and there’s no ice on it, we can do whatever we want,” head coach Wendy Davis said.
In past years, high levels of snowmelt have created unsafe rowing conditions on the Mississippi, forcing the Gophers to practice on nearby lakes, which are often windier.
Though the weather has allowed the team to practice more on the river, it cost them a chance to move into the national rankings last weekend.
The Gophers, who haven’t competed since March 24, were scheduled to race against No. 15 Wisconsin, No. 18 Louisville and unranked Iowa on Lake Macbride in Solon, Iowa. But adverse weather conditions forced race officials to the cancel the meet.
A strong showing at the Iowa meet would’ve vaulted the Gophers into the top 20, Davis said.
The team will try again this weekend against nationally ranked competition at the 19-team Clemson Invitational in Clemson, S.C.
Louisville is among the eight top-20 opponents they will face.
“I think we can beat them,” senior Cassie Drozynski said. “But we don’t have that under our belt yet, whereas before, we would have known.”
Drozynski, a member of the Gophers’ top varsity crew, said the invitational is almost as important as the Big Ten championships next month.
“The mentality and the focus that we bring to this weekend needs to be huge,” she said.
Davis said the top varsity boats are “right where they need to be” in terms of their stroke rating — the number of strokes per minute.
Davis said the team isn’t fully healthy heading into the invitational. With two meets remaining until the Big Ten championships, she said the team should be ready to persevere through minor aches and pains this weekend.
“Now is not the time to have people sitting out,” she said.