Gophers continue dominance

The team has won 19 of 24 races to start the spring season.

Nate Gotlieb

The Gophers rowing team defeated Tennessee over the weekend, winning all of its races in Knoxville, Tenn.

The Gophers have won 19 of their 24 races this spring.  They won 15 of 20 races at their first meet of the spring season, the Oklahoma Invite.

Minnesota head coach Wendy Davis said the team looked a lot sharper than it did two weeks ago in Oklahoma City. 

“We rowed more as one unit today,” Davis said. 

The Gophers’ top varsity eight boat, which won Big Ten boat of the week honors for its performance in Oklahoma City, got off to a slow start, Davis said.

“But after the first five or six strokes,” she said, “we found our rhythm and were able to power through.”

The top varsity eight boat won its race by more than 13 seconds.

Davis said she was pleased with the entire team’s performance this weekend against a Tennessee squad that won a Conference USA championship last season.

“They’re a first-class program,” Davis said of Tennessee.  “When we can beat them, it always feels good.”

Davis said the team is a long way from peak shape. She said the team’s stroke rate was about 32 strokes per minute this weekend, but she expects it to be about 36 strokes per minute at the Big Ten championships.

The team will work gradually to increase the stroke rate in order to prevent injuries, Davis said.

“You first have to establish that your blades are getting through the water the way they need to,” Davis said.  “Then as [the rowers] get fitter, you can crank the rate up a little bit higher while keeping the blades in the water.”

Minnesota will open the Big Ten season against Iowa on April 13.