The Massachusetts rowing team will travel to Kingston, R.I. Saturday to compete in the Yankee Cup, a four team regatta that will include Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Connecticut.
The regatta will include races for the first Varsity 8, second Varsity 8, Varsity 4, first Novice 8, second Novice 8 and Novice 4.
UMass coach Jim Dietz is excited for this Saturday, saying this regatta is a “big gauge” for his team and will really help him see where his team is at right now. Although it is still early in the season, Dietz has been pleased with the amount of work his team has put into practices so far. He also knows that the team looks and feels physically stronger based on the rowing ergometers they have been working with in training.
Recent training has been tough on UMass with all of the flooding that has taken place in this area, however during their training trip to Florida, Dietz noticed much improvement and was “extremely pleased” with how the Minutewomen were performing. Dietz said that although these meets before the conference championship are important, the main goal is to be at their peak performance for the Atlantic 10 championships.
The team atmosphere has been one of support. Led by captains Teresa O’Brien and Ana Tocco, the team has been kept in good shape throughout training. Dietz said that the captains have done a good job stepping up and leading the team.
Over the years, the A-10 championships have been dominated by UMass, however regattas that include conference foe URI have become ones of rivalry. Dietz is very much aware of the rivalry, referencing just how close UMass and URI are in the standings year in and year out. UMass and URI have been “two of the stronger teams” in the conference according to Dietz and “the rivalry with URI is a real one”.
Dietz said he saw the Ram’s crew in Florida during their training, but he did not go as far as to say how good they looked.
“[It’s] so early, [I] can’t tell” Dietz said.
Dietz also added that the Minutewomen are going to have to “work really, really, really hard” to come out of this regatta with a win.
“Crews are always getting faster,” Dietz said. “These are really great athletes”.
Rowing is growing as a sport across college campuses and the competition will only get tighter as the years go by.
The last six months has shown an entire team effort in improvement. Dietz, who already knows that URI will be a tough competitor all year, said that whoever wins the conference championship this year “depends on the strength of St. Joseph’s,” another team that over the past couple of seasons has been there with UMass and URI at the end.
UMass has a very deep crew this year. Dietz is still looking to figure out where everybody stands and is in the process of “moving people along.”
Eric Mansfield can be reached at email@example.com.