March 3, 2015

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UMass Rowing finishes NCAA Championships, ends year ranked No. 21 in the nation

Courtesy of UMass Athletics

Courtesy of UMass Athletics


The Massachusetts rowing team didn’t know what to expect when it traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana for the 2014 NCAA Championships.

Although the streets of the city may not have been as crowded as it was when Indianapolis hosted the Super Bowl a few years ago, the sights and sounds were nothing like the Minutewomen had even seen before.

“With the young squad we had, I think it was a lot like a case of taking a little kid to the circus for the first time,” UMass coach Jim Dietz said.

“(Our) eyes were bugged open and they were living the dream,” he added.

There weren’t any clowns, tightrope walkers, or trained lions putting on shows for the athletes—The Barnum & Bailey Circus doesn’t tour in Indianapolis until December — but the atmosphere was everything they hoped it to be and then some.

“It was electric,” Dietz said. “From when we were there 15 years ago to where it is now, the level of competition across the country has improved 100 volts.”

All three boats UMass entered into the Championships competed in the Finals on Sunday, finishing out the three day event.

The Varsity 4+ boat finished in second place in the D final, giving the boat the No. 20 ranking in the country. The team consisted of Emily Hajjar, Rachel Boudreau, Gabrielle Hayward, Kyla Miller, and Samantha Wondelrin finished the race with a time of 7:49:499. California came in first in the Grand Final.

In the Second Varsity 8+ D Final, UMass finished in second (21st overall in the National Ranking) with a 7:22:797 time. Haley Eovine, Haley York, Hannah Monathan, Catherine Murphy, Hadley Irvin, Natalie Boisvert, Teagan Rolf von dem Baumen, Krysten Menks, and Nicole Juul- Hindsgaul finished behind Boston University in the D final.

The final boat to race for the Minutewomen was the Varsity 8+ boat, which finished third in the D final with a time of 7:03:851. The Varsity 8+ boat also finished the year ranked No. 21 in the country. The University of Oklahoma finished first in the D final and Ohio State took home gold in the Grand Final.

“They finished about where they were ranked coming into this,” Dietz said of his team’s performance.

“The Atlantic 10 isn’t one of the major power conferences, we are striving to become one, but we didn’t finish at the level we were capable of,” he added.

Dietz also took fault for his team’s performance saying that his training schedule for the past few weeks could have led to the team’s lack of speed on the water. UMass will once again be favorites in the A-10 next year and Dietz fully expects them to be back at the event next year, and with much better speed than this year’s performance.

“They gave me the best season we’ve had in years and it was a hell of a lot of fun,” he said. “As long as they’re having fun we are going to continue to get faster.”

Although the Minutewomen didn’t finish near the top in any of the events, it was the experience of being at the event that will set the rowing team up for success in the next coming years. UMass finished the season ranked No. 21 in the country as a team.

Now, armed with a crucial year of experience at rowing’s largest stage, the Minutewomen will set their sights on making a swift return next year.

Andrew Cyr can be reached at arcyr@umass.edu, and can be followed on Twitter @Andrew_Cyr.

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