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May 9, 2016

UMass heads to New York to compete in Head of the Fish regatta

Courtesy UMass Media Relations

One week removed from its solid effort at the prestigious Head of the Charles, the Massachusetts rowing team will now focus on the remaining three races on its fall schedule, which continues this weekend in Saratoga, N.Y. at the Head of the Fish regatta.

“This is a fun race,” UMass coach Jim Dietz said. “It’s one of the shorter head races, and most of the gals will race two or three times. It’s to get out there as many times as we can and just enjoy it.”

As opposed to the Head of the Charles last weekend, much of the Minutewomen squad will be competing more than once this weekend and overall will bring 16 boats to Saratoga to compete in 11 races.

“This is where we’ll have the entire team,” Dietz said. “We haven’t had the entire team go to a race yet. We put up our big top, which is like a circus. We got a 20 by 20 foot tent, we’ll be cooking, and we’ll be watching races.”

From their tents, Dietz and the squad will witness the team compete against about 167 other rowing clubs from 12 states in a variety of races that include singles, doubles, quads and eights.

Junior Emily Boucher, graduate student Megan Donovan and senior captains Elizabeth Euiler and Chelsea Wakeham will team together to compete in the Lightweight 4 and will compose one half of the Lightweight 8+ team that is coxswained by senior Carly Payne.

The UMass Lightweight 8+ team that competed last week and raced to a ninth-place finish in the Head of the Charles will also make trip to the Head of the Fish. The boat is coxed by Samantha Schnoerr and also includes senior Alexandra DiMatteo and junior Amanda Doolin.

Last year, the Minutewomen had a strong showing at the Head of the Fish with five first-place finishes and a multiple of top 10 efforts.

Despite a week of practice in which the team was slowed down by heavy fog conditions, Dietz is very confident that the team can echo those accomplishments.

“We’re in a lot of skulling races and that’s what we really do well at,” Dietz said. “We’re racing crews that are really in our league. They’re all about the same speed, so it’s good competition. Whereas the Head of the Charles, you’re racing national teams and everything else, this is more of a college event.”

Although Dietz and the squad are focused on getting positive results this weekend in New York, they are also in the process of building the team’s depth for the spring.

Not only are they mixing in novice crews for the first time this weekend, but during practices, one of Dietz’s primary goals is to create a level of competition that can beat the squad’s best boats, which includes the strong four of Boucher, Donovan, Euiler and Wakeham.

“What we’ve been doing through practice this week, with all the other women on the team is trying to produce a boat that can beat them,” Dietz said. “So within our own squad we’re trying to beat the best on our squad and that’s what gets you faster. If we can get the rest of the squad up to that level in these next few weeks up until mid-November when we come off the water, we’re going to start to really be doing something.”

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

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