Minnesota glides to race wins in Iowa City

Matt Perkins

Minnesota’s rowing team overcame cold and windy conditions to top Creighton and conference rivals Iowa and Wisconsin over the weekend.

The Gophers won five of six races Saturday on Lake McBride in Solon, Iowa, including dominant showings from their first and second varsity eight boats.

And Cheryl Wick, stroke for the first varsity eight, said, this weekend’s success is just a continuation of what they did two weeks ago against No. 12 Tennessee.

“We really seemed to get things going against Tennessee,” Wick said. “It may have been early in the season, but it got us some momentum that we can build off of, and we showed that here against Iowa.”

The Gophers first varsity eight won all three rounds against Tennessee and Notre Dame on March 18 in Knoxville, Tenn., and the second varsity eight won a round as well.

But that was just a scrimmage.

“It looks like it’s just a scrimmage, but it’s really important for us in preparation for the season,” Wick said. “It also gave us a lot of confidence; to beat a ranked opponent so early helps get you going.”

And that showed Saturday against Iowa, Wisconsin and Creighton.

Minnesota’s top eight boat won with a time of 7 minutes, 18.6 seconds, besting Iowa’s time of 7:36.69.

“The times are indicative as to how fast we’re rowing this year,” coach Wendy Davis said. “But we can still go faster and there’s plenty of things we still have to work on.”

The Gophers second varsity eight also blew away the competition, posting a winning time of 7:41.20, compared with Iowa’s second-place time of 8:06.22 and Creighton’s third-place time of 8:57.93.

The times are evidence that the team is ahead of the game, first varsity four coxswain Kaja Tally said.

“At this point everyone is kind of set in their own seat,” Tally said. “Everything is picking up; the speed, the technique, it’s all coming together. And I would say, without a doubt, where we are this year is so much farther than where we were last year at this same time.”

Minnesota hosts the Big Ten Championships at Lake Phalen at the end of the month, giving the team four weeks to improve further.

The Gophers first and second varsity eight boats will travel to take on UCLA this weekend, while the team’s varsity four boats will stay in town to practice.

And it doesn’t matter whether it’s in competition or practice, the Gophers are going to get faster.

“We still have so much we can work on and improve,” Wick said. “But we are in good shape right now, so when we get everything going we’ll just be stronger.”