Gophers swept by Wisconsin

Senior Lynn Hodnett practices with the rowing team March 23, 2015, on the Mississippi River.

Daily File Photo, Juliet Farmer

Senior Lynn Hodnett practices with the rowing team March 23, 2015, on the Mississippi River.

Jack Satzinger

Minnesota’s first varsity eight was neck and neck with Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon until the end of the race. That’s when the No. 9 Badgers powered past the Gophers during the sprint en route to an eight-second victory. 
 
“That was probably the weakest point of our race [Saturday] and where Wisconsin kind of took off on us,” junior coxswain Taylor Gainey said. “Now, we just need to work on the second half of the race.” 
 
Minnesota lost to Wisconsin in all of its races for the second consecutive year, but rowers from the first varsity eight seemed pleased with their times. 
 
The Gophers’ top boat lost to Wisconsin’s first varsity eight by about 12 seconds last year and trimmed the deficit considerably Saturday. Minnesota also topped Michigan State, solidifying itself as a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten team two weeks before the conference championships. 
 
“We all lost to Wisconsin, which is disappointing, but they’re also ranked [ninth] in the nation right now, so being as close to them as we were was really good,” senior Lynn Hodnett said. “We were able to keep way ahead of Michigan State, which was our number one priority. We did that really well.”
 
Minnesota shook up its lineups coming into the weekend, moving several players from its first varsity eight down to the second varsity eight while also bringing a few up from the second boat. On top of that, almost every rower in the first varsity eight switched to a different seat in the boat in an attempt to improve technique. 
 
Even though the Gophers were swept by Wisconsin, the adjustments worked. 
 
“This is definitely in my opinion the best race we’ve had this season yet,” Hodnett said. “We’ve dramatically improved. … We’ve just been able to focus a lot better on the things that make us faster, and we were able to sustain that this weekend.”
 
One area Minnesota changed in its first varsity eight lineup was bow pair, which has a major impact on the boat’s direction and balance. 
 
“The balance has been 10 times better since we made the lineup change, and [Saturday] it really showed in the boat how much we’ve improved because our balance was so good,” Gainey said. “The lineup feels really solid.” 
 
The Gophers faced a strong headwind in their races Saturday, which created some bigger waves and added difficulty to the competition. 
 
“It can be a little intimidating going in knowing that it is more difficult rowing in a headwind, and it’s harder to just focus on what you need to do in the boat when the waves are so bad,” Gainey said. 
 
While Gainey and Hodnett seemed pleased with Minnesota’s performance this weekend, they’re going to try to lock down the sprint portion of their race in the coming weeks when they face Wisconsin once again. 
 
“The last segment of our race could have been better with our sprint,” Hodnett said. “[We need to] just really [solidify] what wasn’t perfect this 
weekend.