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UMass rowing wins varsity pair, varsity single in Knecht Cup

(Collegian File Photo)

The Massachusetts rowing team had a strong showing in the Knecht Cup on Sunday, winning two races and reaching two more grand finals to improve on last week’s disappointing outing in the Doc Hosea Regatta.

The highlights started early with a win in flight two of the varsity single by the Minutewomen’s B Team, as the A and C Team competed in the first flight and finished second and fourth, respectively. That was quickly followed by another win in the grand final of the varsity pair, where the UMass B Team came in more than 25 seconds ahead of the second place finisher.

The Minutewomen went on to two more grand finals, coming in fourth in the varsity eight and sixth in the varsity four. Two more petite finals, in the second varsity eight and with the C Team in the varsity pair, rounded out the day.

The day’s successes came against the odds, as UMass has been limited all spring by the weather. This week, they were again limited in practice during the lead-up to the Knecht Cup.

“With the rain we had, and the melting starting up in the mountains now, the water moved from 20,000 cubic feet per second to 63,000 cubic feet per second, so that means it’s moving really fast,” Minutewomen coach Jim Dietz said. “We got out Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and it was really rough water. When we went down to Mercer, New Jersey on Friday, we were hoping to get in some practice, but the wind was blowing at 18 miles per hour and they wouldn’t let people out on the water at all.”

Not only was the practice day affected, but the first day of racing was cut short by the wind for the second straight year. As a result, the crews were hard-pressed when the weather cleared on Sunday.

“[The varsity four and varsity eight crews] had to race their heats, their semis and their finals all in one day. So that’s about a mile and a quarter they’re racing, all-out, three times,” Dietz said.

Despite the adverse circumstances, the team performed well and improved on last week’s showing, where the Minutewomen failed to reach a single grand final. Part of the improvement stemmed from an increased cadence, which held UMass back at the Doc Hosea Regatta.

“The four was rowing down the course at 34-35 [strokes per minute] this week. The eight was still around 33-34, but the first 500 meters of the race we showed improvement,” Dietz said. “But then, this week, you might be going off the line at 44-45, a month from now you might be rowing down the course at 36. So, it’s a growing process.”

When asked what else went well this week, Dietz said, “The power move — if another crew is moving on you, or you want to move on somebody else, you might raise the cadence 8 or 10 strokes, put in a little extra effort, and I think our power moves were really working for us.”

Despite the strong showing, Dietz still emphasized the need for continued progress.

“We’ve been trying to work on the split, we’d like to go five seconds faster on our split in the first 500, he said. “I think the varsity [eight] went three seconds faster in the grand finals. Our lineups are changing as well, who we’re putting into the boats for the races, as we’re trying to keep everybody healthy.

“We were pleased with the result,” Dietz added. “We’re still not set with our lineups, but we’ve got a month before the conference championships to get our act together and get these boats up to speed.”

Thomas Haines can be reached at thaines@umass.edu.

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