UMass rowing looks to defend A-10 title Saturday in New Jersey

By Christopher Martinez

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian
Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

The Massachusetts rowing team last left off with a solid performance at the Head of the Charles two weeks ago, finishing with two silver medals in the four-team meet.

The Minutewomen’s focus now, however, has been on the Atlantic 10 tournament starting Saturday, when UMass travels to Pennsauken, New Jersey in an attempt to defend its title.

At last year’s event, the Minutewomen took home a tightly contested championship, topping runner-up Rhode Island by two points, 52-50. If UMass succeeds in defending its title, it would be the Minutewomen’s first A-10 tournament repeat since 2007.

UMass was considered a heavy favorite heading into last year’s meet, having entered undefeated within the conference. But this season, according to Minutewomen coach Jim Dietz, there is no clear favorite.

“The way this year’s race is shaping up, it’s looking like it’s going to be a two-boat race,” Dietz said. “Rhode Island is always the team to beat leading into the tournament.”

UMass will compete in three separate events: the Varsity 8+, the second Varsity 8+ and the Varsity 4+.

The lineup for the Varsity 8+ includes Heather Pekarovich, Lauren St. Pierre, Emily Mann, Marika Kopp, Pippa Edwards, Aiste Balciunaite, Nicole Destefano, Haley York, Allanah Rubi-Mooney.

“The team is feeling sky high right now, we’ve been getting some good time on the water these past couple of days and we’re feeling ready for the big event this weekend,” Dietz said.

According to Dietz, the Minutewomen spent their first week off volunteering in the annual Ice Stars for Wounded Warriors. All the members of the team took part in the community service project, helping with registration and working as ushers.

“We’ve been working with the Wounded Warriors Project for close to five years now and we hope to continue this partnership for many years to come,” Dietz said. “It allows us to stay close to home and give back to the community.”

But over the past few days, UMass has trained at home where it has finally experienced good fortune on a river that has proven to be chaotic for most of the season.

“The water back home was too unpredictable with the flooding and with outrageously fast currents, but as of late the water has calmed down and we’ve been able to get some very valuable time out on the boats,” Dietz said.

The preliminaries for the tournament begin at 8 a.m. Saturday and will conclude with the final rounds beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Chris Martinez can be reached at [email protected]