Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Despite disappointing finish at the Doc Hosea Regatta, UMass rowing remains optimistic

(Collegian File Photo)

The Massachusetts rowing team struggled Sunday in the Doc Hosea Regatta, failing to reach the grand finals of any race in the regatta. The lackluster performance follows a strong showing at the Murphy Cup for a team coming off a close loss in last year’s Atlantic 10 conference championships.

Third and fourth place finishes in the two varsity eight finals were followed by a slightly better showing in the varsity four, where the Minutewomen finished second. But none of their times in the heats were fast enough to enter the grand finals for a shot at victory in the regatta.

UMass coach Jim Dietz cited a number of factors for the disappointing race, but the biggest was lack of practice time.

“Normally, the spring break recess is really important to our team,” Dietz said. “We practice two to three hours a day two times a day at least on the water. Due to the huge storm that came through that week, the below freezing temperatures, and the ice flowing down the river, we stayed on the top floor of Boyden Gym the entire week. We’re getting a lot of physical activity on land, but when it comes right down to it, you have to be in the boat.”

The lack of practice time directly affected the Minutewomen’s performance. Their lane exposed them to the worst of a strong, cold wind and the lack of practice time left them out of sync. Their cadence was recorded as around 32 strokes per minute, compared to 36/38 for the other teams.

“If you’re rowing at 32 and your competition is rowing at 34, you’re basically giving up almost four seconds per minute,” Dietz said. “As the stroke rate goes up, I think the boats will be going faster.”

UMass came in over five seconds behind the winner of the first varsity eight petite final with a time of 6:54.62. In the second varsity eight petite final, the Minutewomen again finished five seconds out of first and came in at 7:13.91. The varsity four petite final, meanwhile, saw the best result of the day for UMass, as the Minutewomen recorded an 8:21.18 time but still finished nineteen seconds behind the winner.

The disappointing day came a week after the Murphy Cup, where UMass made its first appearance of the year and advanced to the grand finals in both varsity eight and junior varsity eight. Not only was it the first competition of 2017, but it was also their first day on the water. With less than a week of practice, the Minutewomen were at a disadvantage going in.

Dietz expressed particular disappointment at not performing better against Rhode Island, UMass’ rival. Last year, the Minutewomen and the Rams finished the season tied in points, but URI won the championship on a tiebreaker. The two teams have combined to win 11 of the last 12 A-10 championships.

UMass heads into the Knecht Cup next week against 30 other varsity teams. With a full week of practice, the Minutewomen hope to come out stronger in that event, where they finished second in the varsity eight last year.

Despite Sunday’s struggles, Dietz identified a number of strengths that provided hope for the rest of the year.

“Their technique is really good, and as far as power per stroke, what they’re getting out of each stroke, they’re moving the boat well,” he said. “As the season progresses, we’ll be picking up speed.”

But those strengths were not enough for the Minutewomen to overcome circumstances on Sunday. As Dietz put it, “It’s an outdoor sport. Mother Nature has a lot to do with what goes on.”

Thomas Haines can be reached at [email protected].

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