The Massachusetts women’s rowing team was not to be denied this past Saturday afternoon. Although the weather was poor and the competition fierce, the Minutewomen easily took control and swept all three races against Colgate to earn a dominant victory.
“Despite the rough conditions, I thought both boats raced pretty well,” said UMass coach Jim Dietz. “Normally, the Connecticut River is flat and very conducive to rowing. On Saturday, the wind was blowing big time and there were white caps, so it was very rough water.”
The Lightweight Varsity Eight was largely a competition between the two entered Minutewomen boats. The first sped across the finish line in five minutes, seven seconds, with the second nipping at their heels in 5:08. The third party in the race, the Colgate boat, had issues almost directly out of the gate that put them a few seconds back. The boat had hit a boat-stopping crab, a dip in the waves that slammed them to a halt just 600 meters from the starting line. After regaining their composure and momentum, the Raiders came across in 5:18.
“We changed the lineup [of the Varsity Eight boat], kind of changed the rhythm of the boat, and it just got a lot more aggressive effect out of it,” said Dietz. “We moved up [Kaitlyn MacKenzie] to the stroke seat from the second boat, and we moved [Michaela Streitfield] into the seventh seat.”
There was no major interference from the elements in the Varsity Four competition, but it was still controlled by the Minutewomen. The Varsity Four squad won the race in 5:40. The win continued the squad’s recent run of success as last weekend they won the Yankee Cup against Rhode Island.
The secondary Four boat came across the finish line just a few seconds after in 5:43, while Colgate’s boat brought up the rear in 5:49.
The Minutewomen completed the sweep in the Novice Eight race. As the Colgate counterparts clocked in at 5:18. UMass’ Novice Eight boat was just over one second faster, finishing in 5:15.5.
Entering the race, the Minutewomen were ranked eighth in the country in the USRowing Lightweight Varsity Eight rankings. Last year, the boat earned the ninth spot in each of the final three polls of the season.
This was the only home competition of the season for the Minutewomen.
Next up, the Minutewomen are on to Camden, N.J., where they will compete in the Knecht Cup against 50 schools from across the country including Wisconsin, who are currently ranked third in the Lightweight Varsity Eight and Bucknell, who is currently ranked sixth. The preliminary heats will take place on April 9, with the championship heats taking place the following day.
After that, the Minutewomen will travel to Pennsauken, N.J. for the Atlantic 10 Championships. Last time around, they came in second out of nine teams.
Ben Lambert can be reached at email@example.com.