The Michigan rowing team’s hot start to the season cooled off as the team competed in the Princeton’s Class of 1987 Cup Regatta for the first time since 2015.
While rankings have not been released so far this season, the Wolverines knew their opponents — Princeton and Brown — were top-notch.
Michigan rose to the challenge initially, only to end up with a mixed bag of results. In the field of three, the Wolverines placed second in the main event — the first varsity eight race — before placing last in the second varsity eight and making a comeback for first in the first varsity four.
With a strong push to open the varsity eight, the Tigers had an early lead that they would maintain comfortably until finish. The battle for the Wolverines, though, was with the Bears.
Michigan started off slow, which led to its last place position near the halfway mark. However, the boat pushed to narrow the distance between Brown’s boat from a six-seat lead to a two-seat lead before passing the Bears completely in the final stretch of the race — finishing with a 7:00.9 time, a full five seconds behind Princeton.
“Yeah, I mean the main thing is, it’s a long season, and we have a really competitive schedule,” said Michigan coach Mark Rothstein. “So this is okay as long as we get better, as long as we move on and learn from it and get better. I think we’ll do that. I think this team is a really good group.”
The team looked to overcome the Tigers in the next varsity eight event. Despite its goals, it fell behind, finishing in third with a time of 7:16.8.
However, the day was highlighted by the varsity four boat event, where the Wolverines pushed ahead of the competition in the last 500 meters and won their first event of the day outright. They ended with a time of 7:49.5, only a second faster than Brown, who contested for the lead to the very last meter.
“That was the best race of the day for us,” Rothstein said. “Not just because we won but because they, I thought they raced a tough race. It was real close, and they were able to get ahead and stay ahead in the last 500.”
Despite the mixed results, Michigan left no doubt it could compete with the higher echelon of rowing.