Former Gophers rower makes U.S. national roster

Anna Cruse became the first Minnesota rower to make the team.

by Drew Cove

Minnesota rowing and Anna Cruse accomplished a first over the summer.

Cruse, a Minnesota rower who graduated in 2017, was the first rower from the University of Minnesota to qualify and be selected for a roster spot on the Under 23 National Team, as the national team was fully selected on July 7.

“It’s definitely an honor,” Cruse said. “I’ve been working really hard in Boston with my teammates in the lightweight quad to get to this point, so it is just the culmination of a lot of hard work.”

Four of a kind

Cruse is competing in the lightweight women’s quadruple sculls with two rowers from Boston University and one from Princeton University.

“We’ve really bonded over the past month or so,” Cruse said. “We’ve been working together every day in the boat and just that experience alone, I think, really brings people together, and we were all there for the same reason … We’re feeling really comfortable.”

The four women will compete in their event from Plovdiv, Bulgaria, the site of this year’s competition.

“I think she is so [positive] that she has found a boat of three other people that are [similarly] minded to her and equally intense,” said former Minnesota teammate Abbey Hauser. “[She is ready] to represent something bigger than herself, and just her college team.”

The New Glarus, Wisconsin native and her fellow rowers are competing through the Union Boat Club of Boston.

Cruse’s achievement is the first time in Minnesota’s 16-year rowing history that a competitor has made it to the roster of the U-23 team.

“She has been talking about making this boat and getting to a World Championship in U-23 since her sophomore year,” Hauser said. “It’s been really exciting to watch her go off and chase it.”

From the novice boat to the national roster

Cruse picked up rowing quickly. She came to Minnesota as a captain of her high school cross country team with two letters in the sport.

“She was definitely a hard worker,” said former Gophers assistant coach, now Bucknell assistant coach, Peter Morgan. “She was a runner in high school; you could tell that she was used to physical training and working hard.”

Morgan was Cruse’s novice coach when she came to Minnesota, her first rowing coach ever.

“One of the toughest rowers I’ve coached — ever,” Morgan said. “[She is] incredibly tenacious and competitive, [and] I think that can be infectious in the boat.”

Thriving with the Gophers

Coming out of her senior season, Cruse was an Academic All-Big Ten Selection and was a recipient of the Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award.

“Her competitive drive and intensity she brings to the team is unlike, honestly, anyone I’ve ever met before,” Hauser said. “Even though it was a new thing for her at the time, [freshman year], she honestly was going to commit herself 100 percent to it.”

Hauser and Cruse were teammates for three years, and were roommates for three as well, and now Hauser is heading into her senior season at Minnesota.

The senior said that Cruse might have some nerves, but will be ready to compete at this event she has waited so long to participate in.

While this is a milestone for the Minnesota program, it is nonetheless an accomplishment for Cruse, who is making her first World Championship competition.

“I am just really excited for the experience to compete against other international crews,” Cruse said. “I don’t really have words for it, but it is really exciting.”