Minnesota boats blow past competition

by Nick Gerhardt

A gorgeous spring day yielded beautiful results Saturday for the Minnesota rowing team on Lake Phalen in St. Paul.

Minnesota dominated a double dual this weekend against Wisconsin, Iowa, Drake and Oregon State.

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when: 10 a.m. Saturday
where: Lake Phalen, St. Paul

It was the first event all season in which the team has been considered the favorite entering the competition, but it had no trouble living up to those expectations.

“It’s a wonderful position to be in and there’s a new kind of nerves,” coach Wendy Davis said.

The Gophers tested their nerves, and they proved ice cold as they dominated the field.

The first varsity eight boat came in with a time of six minutes and 40.92 in the first race, beating Iowa by nearly nine seconds. In the afternoon race, the boat won by nearly the same margin when the Gophers’ top rowers finished in 6:23.81 while Wisconsin timed in behind them at 6:32.36.

“It was really good to beat Wisconsin because we didn’t know what to expect,” senior Maggie Armstrong said.

The spotlight clearly focused on the second varsity eight and the first varsity four once again after their complete performances for the second weekend in a row. The two boats won their events against Yale and Dartmouth two weekends ago and continued to perform well this weekend.

While the first varsity eight posted impressive marks in their two events, the second varsity eight blew the competition out of the water with their times.

In the morning race against Iowa, their boat finished in 6:51.62 and the Hawkeyes came in at 7:05.63, for a difference of 14 seconds. Then in the afternoon race against the Badgers, Minnesota left Wisconsin in the clear with a finish time of 6:50.93. The Badgers came in nearly 15 seconds later at a time of 7:05.17.

“Our second varsity eight is one of the top in the country. We have some young women in there that are really starting to figure it out,” Davis said.

The first varsity four boat dismantled their opponents in the event. In the first race they beat Iowa 7:40.98 to 8:11.23. Then against Wisconsin they won by a slimmer margin, 7:32.50 to 7:44.52 – a 12-second difference.

“Both those boats are just getting better and better,” Davis said.

The Gophers took eight out of the 12 races during the event. The second varsity four lost twice to the Badgers, and the first novice eight lost to Wisconsin in their second race of the day.

Minnesota still has work to do, however, if the Gophers want to improve upon their NCAA appearance from a year ago.

“We’re still working on our sprint, but our starts are a lot better than last year at this time,” senior Jenny Barnes said.

Minnesota has one more race next weekend against Kansas at home before heading to Madison, Wis. for the Big Ten Championships where the Gophers will face reigning conference champion Ohio State.

“Last year we were two or two and a half seconds behind them, and this year, we might be neck and neck with them,” Barnes said.

Davis said the depth of her team could carry the squad to new heights the rest of the season.

“We need to keep doing what we’re doing, and hopefully we’ll earn a team bid to nationals,” Armstrong said.