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Dartmouth Head Regatta awaits Minutewomen

With the Massachusetts rowing team’s fall campaign drawing to a close, the squad seems to be in top form and in great shape going into its annual winter training session and the 2011 spring season.

If the impressive performances of the last few races, of which included the Head of the Charles and Head of the Fish, weren’t proof enough of that statement, the Minutewomen had a very encouraging week of practicing, that included a slew of personal records during 6k trials on Thursday morning.

“The seat racing we had on Tuesday night I thought was huge,” UMass coach Jim Dietz said. “I think we’re turning the corner as far as the attitude of what it takes to be an elite athlete in a college program.”

This weekend, however, the UMass squad will sport a sort of new look, as the varsity members will take a break from competition to allow the novice members to travel to Hanover, N.H. to compete in the Dartmouth Head Regatta.

The regatta aims to build the experience of the young rowers on the team, who have not had much competition so far, and of which feature mostly freshmen, and a lot of them joined the team in September as walk-ons.

Rowers that will make the trip to New Hampshire include Alexandra Daggy, Melissa Donohue, Gabrielle Hayward, Alexandra O’Halloran and Sarah Shapero, all of whom are freshmen. 

Those rowers along with a plentiful of others will be looking to build off their success from last week’s Head of the Fish Regatta.

Those results included a third place finish in the Collegiate JV 8+ race, a sixth place finish in the Collegiate Novice 4+ race and a ninth place finish in the Collegiate Novice 8+ event.

When the novice team is competing this weekend, the potential of reaching a much larger goal if they put in the effort – the United States U-23 rowing team – is the bigger accomplishment they are looking to achieve down the road.

Four of the Minutewomen will be traveling to Boston next week to go to the U.S. Rowing Identification Camp, which include senior Alexandra DiMatteo, juniors Amanda Doolin and Kendall Bennett and sophomore Michaela Streitfield.

“This is a camp where they’re going to be trying to identify people for the Under-23 World Championships during the summer,” Dietz said. “Last year, we had one of our lightweights make that team, so that’s what you want to see. You want to see that they’re trying to progress even further than they can at UMass.”

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

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