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UMass hungry for more fish heads

A week after competing against the world’s best rowers in steady snowfall, the Massachusetts rowing team feels ready to face the rain forecasted for this weekend as it travels to Saratoga, N.Y., for the Head of the Fish race.

This course may be shorter than last week’s with fewer sharp turns, yet the Minutewomen are approaching this race the same way they always do.

“We’re a really competitive team,” co-captain Ana Tocco said. “We enjoy the races. We’ve been working hard and practicing, and we get the weekends to show the work that we’ve been putting forth. We know what to do to make things happen.”

UMass raced two boats last week in Boston for the Head of the Charles; however, the entire team will be competing this weekend in the singles, doubles, quads, fours and eights races.

“This weekend we’ll have our own armada going into the regatta,” UMass coach Jim Dietz said.

During the same race last year, UMass placed third in the collegiate heavyweight eight and first in the lightweight eight. The team also finished fifth in the heavyweight four and second in the lightweight four.

“We’re just as strong as we were last year if not even better,” Tocco said. “We’ve just been putting so much work into everything.”

The Minutewomen will send five rowers to compete in the singles race, three more than last year. This year’s single rowers include Julia Richter, the lone representative in last week’s singles, as well as Sam Smith, Tory Gordan, Emily Boucher and Liz Euiler.
Carly Payne will cox both the lightweight four and the lightweight eight. Molly Bogle and Em Chiu will cox the heavyweight four boats and Sam Schnoerr will cox the heavyweight eight.

“The great thing about rowing is that teamwork is a must,” Tocco said. “Everyone needs to work together for it to actually work. A successful race in one boat isn’t going to lead us to a championship. We need everyone.”

The girls have extra motivation this weekend as the winner of each event gets a fish head trophy, that is, an actual mounted fish head. The regatta has grown, in large part, because of the popularity of these unmatched trophies.

“It’s definitely something that you want to work for,” Tocco said. “They’re very different. This brings a whole new dimension to the race.”

The Minutewomen hope to add to their collection of fish heads, resting on a wall in their office, rapidly approaching double-digits. They are counting on the experience from last week to produce multiple fish heads this weekend.

“With every race you get experience,” Tocco said. “If we rowed in last weekend’s conditions we can row in anything. It’s the building off of experiences we had in the past that makes us even stronger.”

Pete Vasquez can be reached pvasquez@student.umass.edu.

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