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Minutewomen kick off 2010 campaign

Courtesy UMass Media Relations

From a casual sports fan’s perspective, the Massachusetts women’s rowing team doesn’t receive near the amount of recognition as some of the more popular sports on campus like hockey, basketball or football.

But at a closer glance, it’s hard to dispute that the Minutewomen are one of the most successful programs to represent UMass athletics in recent memory.

Winners of 13 of the last 15 Atlantic 10 championships, UMass has been guided in the waters by a slew of All-Americans and Olympians over the years, as well as National Rowing Hall of Famer, head coach Jim Dietz.

Dietz, who boasts one of the most impressive resumes in the country, has molded the Minutewomen into one of the most consistently successful crews in the nation, producing 54 gold medals in 14 league championship appearances while being honored seven times as A-10 Coach of the Year.

This year, Dietz and the rest of the Minutewomen hope to continue that storied success and build off of the team’s accomplishments in the United States Rowing Collegiate Championships this past spring.

At the national regatta, which was held on Lake Mercer in N.J., the site of USRowing’s National Training Center, UMass placed high in all of its races, including first in the Lightweight 8, Lightweight Single and Lightweight Double.

The Minutewomen return most of their crew members who participated on Lake Mercer, including seniors Alexandra DiMatteo, Elizabeth Euiler and Chelsea Wakeham, all of whom competed in the USRowing Under-23 World Championship Trials this past summer.

The leadership and experience of those three seniors will be instrumental in guiding UMass, not only on a surge for its 14th A-10 championship, but also for its novice crews, which are annually composed of mostly freshmen and an abundance of women with little-to-no rowing experience.

Despite a successful 2010 spring, the Minutewomen were still left with a bitter taste in their mouths after being defeated by Rhode Island by 12 points in the A-10 Championship.

UMass will be hungry to regain their crown and are hopeful that junior Amanda Doolin, senior DiMatteo and Megan Donovan, who, as a graduate student will be able to participate again this year, bring their All-Conference abilities to the table for another championship season.

The season begins this weekend as the Minutewomen host the UMass Invite in Amherst at 8 a.m. on Saturday before hitting the road to Derby, Conn. the following weekend to compete in the Head of the Housatonic.

Steve Hewitt can be reached at shewitt@student.umass.edu.

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