Minnesota wins four races in its second competition

The team’s second varsity eight boat won its two races over the weekend.

The rowing team practices on the Mississippi River on Mar. 23, 2015.

Image by Juliet Farmer, Daily File Photo

The rowing team practices on the Mississippi River on Mar. 23, 2015.

by Mike Hendrickson

Junior coxswain Meredith Kelly knew the finish for the second varsity eight was close on Sunday, but she didn’t know if her boat had beaten Syracuse’s until after the race was over.
“We had no idea who won,” Kelly said. “It was a really, really tight race. We were stroke for stroke with [Syracuse] coming into the last 250 [meters], definitely a very tense 
The Gophers won by .22 seconds against Syracuse and three other schools in the second varsity eight race on Sunday, capping off a weekend where the team took first or second in all six races they competed in at the Doc Hosea Invitational in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Minnesota won four races and took second in two.
“For us to come away with four first places and two second places, if we’re not happy with that, what’s our problem?” head coach Wendy Davis said. “These are good schools, so it’s not like we’re showing up and everyone’s crummy.”
The Gophers won three out of three races they competed in Saturday. Minnesota’s varsity eight and second varsity eight won their heats and finished with the top times at the event. 
The Gophers varsity four won its heat, but Syracuse, which won the other heat, finished with a better time.
Syracuse then defeated Minnesota in two of the three races on Sunday. The Orange’s first varsity eight boat finished ahead of the Gophers by just under 12 seconds, and their first varsity four was about five seconds ahead of Minnesota’s.
“It would’ve been really awesome to beat Syracuse [Sunday],” said senior coxswain Alyssa Chu-Tom of the first varsity four boat. “We gave it all our best, so that’s really all we can ask.”
Before the event, Davis said, she was eager to see how the Gophers second varsity eight would place over the weekend. The boat was the only one to finish first both days and put up a time of 6:49.50 in the 2,000-meter race in its narrow victory over Syracuse.
“I think the second varsity eight is showing what they can do,” Davis said. “Syracuse went to the NCAAs last year. … We were able to get them by two-tenths of a second. It shows the strength of the second varsity eight.”
Davis said she didn’t think the first varsity eight had a great day on Sunday, as they finished with a time of 6:46.12.
“I think the [first varsity eight] would admit they had a pretty bad race,” Davis said. “To have a pretty bad race and still come in second is good. … We were probably at 70 percent, and our 70 percent was still good enough to get second.”
Kelly said the team needs to work on their composure when they face good teams like Syracuse, especially when races are close at the end.
“[We’ll] try to simulate race situations where we’re neck and neck with another boat,” Kelly said. “We’ve been doing a little bit of that [already], and I think we’ll be doing more of that going forward.”