In its first ranked matchup of the season, the No. 5 Michigan rowing team won seven of nine events to cap off its “good but not great” performance, as described by Michigan coach Mark Rothstein.
“I thought the four had a great day, particularly the first and second four,” Rothstein said. “I thought our novice crews had really good progress from where they were a few weeks ago, which didn’t really surprise me. They really hadn’t gotten much water time, and novice had gotten a little more and gotten much faster, and I think they’ll continue to get much faster.”
Despite strong performances from the novice eights in the event against Clemson and No. 9 Virginia, they failed to replicate the dominant performances made by the varsity boats and settled with last and second-to-last place finishes in the two novice eight races.
The first and second novice eight rowed below their typical times, instead finishing the 2,000-meter events with times of 6:47.64 and 7:08.33, respectively.
The other events, however, demonstrated why the Wolverines are ranked as they are. The first and second varsity eight and varsity four teams finished first in their respective events, with heavy leads in their first-place performances.
The first varsity eight — putting up a team-best 6:14.50 — finished the race with an open-water lead, a 16.94-second gap between Clemson’s varsity eight. Similarly, the second varsity eight rowed a 6:23.2 and created a 16.49-second separation from the Tigers.
“I thought we had a good start in both those boats,” Rothstein said. “We got the early lead. I thought we pushed hard all the way through the race which is something we wanted to do.”
The second varsity four managed to surpass the time set by the first varsity four, finishing in 7:13.7 to the first varsity four’s 7:14.7. In contrast, the third varsity four boat finished third out of four in their field, finishing in 7:31.52 that highlighted a depth problem for Michigan.
With only the first and second varsity eight and varsity four boats competing against Virginia, the Wolverines avoided having to use depth they don’t have. In turn, Michigan proceeded to win three out of four of the events, with only the second varsity eight losing in their events — finishing in 6:40.48, a four-second deficit from the first-place finisher.
Despite dropping a few events, the Wolverines’ strength with their first and second team boats pushed them over the edge to perform like the elite team they are. In their losses, however, they highlighted issues to work on later in the season.