Strong start to UM crew season

The Massachusetts women’s rowing team won the Yankee Cup Saturday, beating three other New England state universities.

With 29 points, the Minutewomen defeated Connecticut (19 points), New Hampshire (15) and Atlantic 10 foe Rhode Island (14).

“It was really encouraging,” UMass coach Jim Dietz said. “[It was a] good day to start off racing season.”

The Maroon and White won three out of the four events, which were the first varsity eight, the second varsity eight, the varsity four and the novice eight.

Sophomore coxswain Dana Pulda led the first varsity eight boat to victory, almost four seconds ahead of second-place UConn with a time of 6:34.60.

The Minutewomen also won the second varsity eight and the novice eight.

“All the crews did pretty well – looked strong,” Dietz said.

After suffering a collision with the boat from UConn, the varsity four placed second just one second behind UNH with a time of 7:57.00.

“The girls in the boat came off feeling good about the race,” Dietz said of the varsity four boat that included coxswain Molly Morgan and rowers Kristen Boyce, Jaime Dicke, Sara Weinstock and Karalyn Walk.

In the non-scoring events, UMass won the quad and finished second in the lightweight four, the second novice eight, the lightweight eight and the novice four races.

“We got to take home the hardware,” Dietz said.

There was no points trophy handed out Sunday at Glen Island Park in Pelham, N.Y. where the Minutewomen finished only behind Columbia for a second-place finish out of four teams.

The Maroon and White raced for second-place in four races and a third-place finish in the other. Colgate finished third on the day and Holy Cross was fourth.

Columbia swept all five races with the closest race of the day being in the first varsity eight competition where Columbia, with a time of 6:45.8, beat UMass by only 1.2 seconds.

“It was a very exciting race in the [first] varsity eight,” Dietz said.

Dietz noted that his crew didn’t get a good start and lost the race in the first ten strokes.

According to the most recent collegiate rowing polls (Mar. 29), Columbia ranks No. 20 among NCAA Division I Varsity Eights.

“For us to be that close feel like we’ll have a pretty good season,” Dietz said.

The Minutewomen also finished second in the varsity four, first in the novice eight and second in the novice eight. Their only third-place finish of the day was in the second varsity eight race behind Columbia and Colgate.

“This early in the year we’re not rowing that high,” Dietz said. “We have a lot of upside, potentially. As we sort things out for the A-10s we’re looking stronger in preparing for the races.”

Dietz added that after this weekend he feels more comfortable about his team’s chances this year of winning its 11th straight Atlantic 10 title, as he compared George Washington’s outcomes to his squad’s times. Dietz considers GW the toughest competition for the league crown.

“Rutgers beat GW last week by a second,” Dietz said. “Rutgers was beaten by Columbia by 16 seconds. So on paper we’re better than GW, so overall it looks pretty good.”

The Minutewomen will return to the water Saturday and Sunday in Camden, N.J. for the Knecht Cup, which they have won two years in a row.