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Lone home races set to shove off at Lake Phalen

This weekend’s event is the only home competition for the Gophers this season.

Minnesota’s rowing team is finally getting noticed around the nation.

In competitions spanning from Louisville, Ky., to Los Angeles, the Gophers accumulated a 24-5 record while impressing several established programs.

Freshman novice Rachel Hotkowski tried to put the team’s status into words.

“(Other rowers) are scared of you and stuff,” Hotkowski said. “Just walking around at races they’ll be like, ‘oh she’s from Minnesota, she must be good.’ “

Although the national recognition has helped elevate the young program, Minnesota’s lengthy road trip has prevented the team from being noticed at home.

This changes Saturday when the Gophers finally host their first home races of the spring against University of Kansas and Southern Methodist University at 10 a.m. All races are at Lake Phalen in St. Paul.

The Gophers are coming off a standout performance in a double-dual against Big Ten competition last weekend, which featured victories in 10 of 12 races.

The first Varsity Eight team split its races, but a loss to No. 1 Ohio State was one of the closest races posted against the Buckeyes this season.

Minnesota coach Wendy Davis said this weekend is especially important because the team must row well despite competing during the most demanding workouts of the season.

“Both of these schools are the kind where if you screw up you could be in trouble,” Davis said. “This is a real tough week for us with the training cycle since it is the last tough weekend before we go into Big Tens.”

Because of its proximity to the championships, Davis referred to this weekend as a tune-up. But the Gophers’ coaches still expect the team to perform well and win.

One of the teams they will be watching is the first Novice Eight, which will attempt to extend its unbeaten streak to 10-0.

The novices will have a quality opponent in Kansas, another unbeaten team throughout the spring.

But novice coach John Flynn said he looks forward to the competition and noted that they defeated the Jayhawks in the fall.

“It should be a good measure of our speed,” Flynn said. “The ideal thing would be that it would be a real test for us so that we’re ready for Michigan State and Ohio State at Big Tens.”

Whether or not the Gophers perform exceptionally, Davis said everyone is just happy to be home.

“Everyone’s just glad we don’t have to get on a bus or get on a plane,” she said.

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