Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass rowing sees two top-20 finishes in NCAA Championships

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Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

For the second consecutive year, the Massachusetts rowing team was represented by a trio of boats on the final day of the NCAA Championships.

After participating in qualifying races Friday and Saturday, UMass’ Second Varsity 8+, Varsity 8+ and Varsity 4+ boats finished 18th, 20th and 21st overall respectively in the season finale held in Gold River, California.

The Varsity 4+ team started off the day for UMass with a third-place time in the D finals behind Northeastern and Central Florida.  Abigail Raichek, Hallie Dunlap, Mia Bornstein, Courtney Edson and Estefi Marti-Malvido led the charge with a 8:33.756 finish.

The Varsity 8+ team recorded the Minutewomen’s best finish of the day with a second-place result in the D finals (6:56.967). The boat – consisting of Heather Pekarovich, Lauren St. Pierre, Emily Mann, Marika Kopp, Pippa Edwards, Aiste Balciunaite, Nicole Destefano, Haley York and Allanah Rubi-Mooney – was outlasted only by first-place finisher Northeastern (9:52.394).

After a second-place finish in Saturday’s semifinals, the Minutewomen’s Second Varsity 8+ team advanced to Sunday’s C finals where it came in sixth with a time of 7:02.760. They finished behind Princeton, Harvard, USC, Northeastern and Notre Dame.

According to UMass coach Jim Dietz, the team’s performance in the championships marked the Minutewomen’s continued development as a national competitor. UMass has now won two consecutive Atlantic 10 titles and has two straight NCAA Championship appearances following a 15-year drought from 1999-2013.

“The level of women’s rowing across the country is just fantastic right now, there’s just so much speed,” Dietz said. “By the time you get here, you’re in really fast company. I think we were better prepared coming into it (this year).”

Dietz said he was happy with the three boats’ performances but was hoping for three C-level final appearances instead of just the one showing by the Second Varsity 8+. In the 2014 championships, all three Minutewomen boats appeared in the D finals.

“I think if things had gone our way and we had a better race in our semifinals, we could have been there,” Dietz said. “But we were a little flat in the semis and you need to be up for every race.”

Dietz said he is confident UMass can continue to improve and surpass the expectations set before this year’s championships. He emphasized the team’s youth as a strength for the Minutewomen, who graduated only four seniors.

“The past three years, our incoming class of freshmen have had much higher talent than we’ve had in the past,” Dietz said. “Those people have moved right into our racing boats. That’s what we’ll do with this year’s upcoming class.”

Highlighting this youth was the successful Second Varsity 8+ group made up of Haley Eovine, Rachel Boudreau, Samantha Wonderlin, Katherine Armstrong, Hadley Irvin, Krysten Menks, Zoe Hill, Natalie Boisvert and Grace Bundy.

Boudreau was the only senior of the group, while four freshmen, three sophomores and one junior rounded out the rest of the boat.

“That’s a very young crew to be racing at this level,” Dietz said. “So we think the future is very bright for us.”

Along with Boudreau, UMass loses Kopp, Pekarovich and St. Pierre to graduation.

Now the two-time reigning conference champions, Dietz said the Minutewomen’s work for a third straight national appearance starts later this summer in preparation for fall competition.

“The girls are all committed to training over the summer and coming back at a higher level,” Dietz said. “It’s a high-endurance sport and they all realize that.”

Anthony Chiusano can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @a_chiusano24.

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