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UMass rowing gets off to a strong start

Courtesy of UMass Athletics

The Massachusetts rowing program began the 2013 season at the Head of the Oklahoma Regatta this past weekend under coach Jim Dietz. The Minutewomen, along with coach Dietz, displayed strong performances that leave hope for a promising season.

Four current team members self-selected themselves prior to making the trip to Oklahoma City by winning the top four seeds in a 5K race-off between 30 Minutewomen rowers. The four fastest finishers were senior Lauren St. Pierre, junior Claudia Caballero Larco, senior captain Taryn Wilson and incoming freshman Emily Mann.

“That was really exciting that we got those four people, two of them were open weights and two of them were light weights,” Deitz said.

Mann and Wilson secured a pair of gold medal finishes on Saturday to highlight some of the best results of the weekend. The two finished 17 seconds ahead of second place finishers from Tulsa, posting a time of 16:58.98.

In the Women’s Open 2x, Caballero Larco and St. Pierre earned silver medals with a time of 17:22.10 and beat Southern Methodist by 11 seconds. Dietz was extremely proud of the effort he saw, noting, “the women that beat us in the open weight double actually rode to the United States World Championship this past summer.”

Larco and St. Pierre commenced the weekend’s events with the Women’s Open 1x, where Larco took fourth in 18:20.26 and St. Pierre earned fifth in 18:48.75. At the same time, Wilson and Mann claimed third and fourth place, respectively in the Women’s Open Lightweight 1x. Wilson finished in 19:13.78 while Mann finished in 19:07.58.

Saturday’s races came to a close with the eventful Women’s Open 2x 500m Grand Final. Rowers Wilson earned silver medals with a time of 1:51.99 while St. Pierre and Larco finished four seconds later for the bronze.

“That’s a fun event in that a night the wind has died down, it’s under the lights and there are fireworks after it,” Deitz said.

Sunday races continued with all four rowers competing in the Collegiate Singles and claiming spots within the top six times. Caballero Larco led the Minutewomen with a silver medal in 18:10.98 followed by Wilson in fourth (18:32.74), Mann in fifth (18:41.36) and St. Pierre in sixth (18:45.53).

After the collegiate, all four rowers joined forces for the Women’s Open 4x where the quad lead seven race boats with a time of 15:28.16.

“That shows the depth that we have,” Dietz said. “It was no surprise that by the end of the day when I put all the girls together, they won the four-man by 25 seconds.”

Dietz, 64, performed alongside his team as he earned a silver medal in the Men’s Masters 1x J group, crossing in 18:06.07.

After a weekend of nonstop racing, Dietz expressed satisfaction in the way his rowers performed given the tough windy conditions of the Oklahoma plains.

“They put in a really tough weekend of racing, but they came out of it feeling really good about themselves,” Dietz said “The training they’ve been putting in all summer has paid off.”

The Minutewomen look forward to two regattas this upcoming weekend. First on Saturday will be the Head of the Housatonic in Derby, Conn., and second on Sunday will be the Seven Sisters Sculling Race in Northampton.

Robert Acer can be reached at racer@umass.edu.

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