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UMass still in hunt for A-10 title

The Massachusetts rowing team will continue setting its pace for the Atlantic 10 title in Worcester, Mass. this Saturday against the likes of MIT, New Hampshire, Williams and Holy Cross.

The five team regatta will include the first Varsity 8, second Varsity 8, Varsity 4, first Novice 8, second Novice 8 and Novice 4 races.

The Minutewomen, coming off a strong second place finish in last weekend’s Yankee Cup, look to bounce back with skill and determination after a win on the Holy Cross Crusaders’ home water.

UMass coach Jim Dietz expects there to be strong surges from the Crusaders in their efforts to win at home as they look to establish themselves as true competitors in the division.  Dietz also sees Williams, who took the Division III title last year, to be tough opponents in an environment that allows for great speed.

“Worcester’s turf is a lake, and lakes tell a lot about speed,” Dietz said.

Without a strong river current to either help or hinder the boats’ progress, this weekend’s regatta will show just the kind of speeds that each crew is capable of reaching out of sheer ability.

Dietz is expecting his boats to show great ability, both in terms of power and teamwork, as a result of their intense training regiment. The Connecticut River, which the Minutewomen train on, flows at 80,000 cubic feet per second, a speed that some schools have never even experienced before. This speed builds a rower’s strength and reflexes to a higher level, which is a key attribute in helping UMass capture 13 A-10 titles in the past 14 years.

Another advantage that the boats have to enjoy this weekend is a stretch of warm weather and clear skies. The good weather not only helps the boats to glide more fluidly, but also helps to increase the morale of the rowers.

“Everyone gets that extra little bit of energy in their strides once they feel that the weather is warming up and the sun stays out longer,” Dietz said.

All these factors add up to make a sport where luck has very little impact on the results.  There is no wind gust to push a fly ball over the fence or an angled stick to cause a slap shot to redirect and find the back of the net. The outcome of a regatta depends heavily on intense practices, careful planning, strong teamwork and an ability to race your own boat from within, something Dietz feels his crew is highly capable of.

“As a whole, these girls are highly intelligent and very calculating to the point where they can win on many different levels,” Dietz said.

David Martin can be reached at dmmartin@student.umass.edu.

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