Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass rowing strong against tough competition

By Thomas Haines

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(Collegian File Photo)

The Massachusetts rowing team put forth a strong performance on the Charles River Saturday against top competition, dominating in-state rival Boston University and performing well against two strong opponents.

Although the Minutewomen never finished above third place, they beat the Terriers in all but one race. In addition, UMass performed well against Northeastern and Michigan State, two stronger teams.

Minutewomen coach Jim Dietz emphasized and shifted his focus toward the tough competition with BU.

“There were going to be two races going on in the same race,” Dietz said. “Our focus was on Boston University and seeing how we compared in times against our rivals.”

The Minutewomen compared favorably, beating the Terriers by seven seconds in the first varsity eight, two seconds in the first varsity four and less than a second in the second varsity eight. The one race in which UMass finished fourth was the second varsity four, but Dietz was still pleased with the result.

“The B team was basically our novice women,” he said. “Those four women had no rowing experience prior to starting off with the team here last fall, so that’s kind of an add-on race just to get these kids experience.”

“They were fabulous,” Dietz added. “I was really happy with that second varsity four and they will be competing in three weeks at the Dad Vail Regatta against other novice crews and I expect they’ll do really well there.”

Beyond the competition with BU, the Minutewomen also exceeded expectations against the other two teams. Although they never finished above the Huskies or the Spartans, they gave tough competition to those two teams.

“They’re really fast teams, Northeastern and Michigan State, and they’ve really been doing well this season. Across the board, all their boats are strong,” Dietz said. “Looking back at the video, we were really hanging on Northeastern and Michigan State for the first 1000 meters of the race. Around the 1000-meter mark, I think the team just felt comfortable in that they were leading BU, they lowered the stroke rating a bit. I think if they’d realized how close they were to Northeastern and Michigan State, they could’ve done really well in that race.”

Facing tough competition, UMass also had to deal with unfavorable weather conditions. For the third consecutive regatta, the Minutewomen were faced with cold temperatures and strong winds.

“[It was a] very cold morning, quartering tailwind, fast racing, choppy water, but it was nice to be on still water,” Dietz said. “I think they handled the conditions very well. They looked very smooth on the choppy water.”

The inclement weather of the late spring has not just affected the races. For several weeks now, practice time on the Connecticut River has been limited or impossible because of heavy rain and melting snow.

Dietz mentioned the need for improvisation to find practice time.

“We spent the entire week rowing on the Oxbow because the water [in the Connecticut River] was still flooding at 40,000 cubic feet per second. But we were able to get a lot of work done,” he said.

Following Saturday’s outing, the Minutewomen have a week off before heading into the Atlantic 10 conference championships. Last year, UMass lost the conference championships on a tiebreaker after winning for two years straight. Dietz expressed optimism that this year would be a return to past glories.

“As the weeks move on here, it’s just going to keep getting better and better. Right now, we’re just solidifying our lineups and gearing toward speed, up to those higher ratings. This is where you want to peak. We just have to put it all together, and I think we have all the parts to put it together.”

Thomas Haines can be reached at [email protected]

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