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May 14, 2016

UMass prepares for Pumpkin Head Regatta

Courtesy UMass Media Relations

After a solid performance in the Head of the Housatonic in Shelton, Conn. last Saturday, the Massachusetts crew team has returned home and will host the Pumpkin Head Regatta on the waters of the Connecticut River this Saturday.

The Minutewomen will share the waters with Smith College in what will be more of an informal competition, head coach Jim Dietz explained.

The event will serve as a practicing platform as UMass prepares for its biggest race of the fall season on Oct. 24 when it heads to Boston to compete in the Head of the Charles.

Dietz and the Minutewomen will enter in two races on Saturday and will look to improve upon their performance from the Housatonic last week.

Hoping to improve upon its fifth-place performance at the Housatonic, UMass will enter in the Lightweight 8 on Saturday, coxed by senior Carly Payne and of which also features seniors Elizabeth Euiler and Chelsea Wakeham.

The Minutewomen will also enter their Varsity 4 boat that will compete in the Head of the Charles next week, which is coxed by senior Samantha Schnoerr and stroked by senior Ali DiMatteo.

“Those boats have been training solid for the past week in the mornings, and most of them are doing two-a-days just to get ready for the Charles,” Dietz said. “And those boats are really starting to become competitive.”

As far as expectations go for Saturday, Dietz and the crew are focused on getting all of the details right as they head to the Charles.

“The expectations are going to more like, for example, we rowed the course in 19 minutes at stroke rate 32, it felt good, maybe it was too high and we should back off and row a lower rate, and where are we stronger,” Dietz explained.

After its first week postponement at the UMass Invitational two weeks ago due to weather and river conditions, Dietz and his squad were eager more than ever to compete at the Housatonic.

“They couldn’t wait to get back on the water,” Dietz said. “More of the team wanted to go to the Housatonic last week but we kept it really small, and the Charles is going to be relatively small also.”

Due to the aforementioned weather conditions, the Minutewomen did not practice for much of the early part of last week.

However, Dietz said that the weight room and indoor fitness have been strengths for the team and is an important factor as the squad prepares for the Head of the Charles and some other big races in November.

“As far as training goes, we got this new guy Chris Boyko in the weight room that we’re working with,” said Dietz. “The weight room work is really bringing our fitness and strength up, so that’s a positive.”

As far as the team’s progression is going, Dietz is very enthusiastic and happy about where the team is at, and is confident about the team’s chances as they travel to the Head of the Charles next week, even through all of the misfortunes of the weather.

“It’s been a good fall. I think the rowing has been going well,” said Dietz. “We haven’t been doing a third of the racing we normally do this time of year because of the river flooding and everything, but overall I think the fall is going pretty well.”

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

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