Six tenths of a second were the difference between the No. 10 Michigan women’s rowing team and No. 3 Virginia in the second varsity four boat race Sunday morning.
With about five strokes left to go in a race on Lake Hartwell in Clemson, S.C., the Wolverines’ 2V4 crew pulled ahead of the Cavaliers — who beat Michigan earlier this month — sealing their third consecutive first-place victory of the weekend with a time of 7:19.7.
The tight finish was one of Michigan’s many highlights over the weekend. The team as a whole collected eight victories during the two-day Clemson Invitational on Saturday and Sunday.
“All of our boats had a good weekend, but that was just a cool race,” said coach Mark Rothstein. “We were down most of the race, and we set a great last 500 (meters). That was just exciting to see how that group closed in the last quarter of the race.”
Three racing sessions — two on Saturday and one on Sunday — saw the Wolverines face off with six nationally ranked crews, Virginia and No. 8 Texas among them. Twenty teams in total participated in the weekend regatta.
Saturday morning, Michigan’s first varsity eight boat posted a second-place finish at 6:48.0, right behind Texas. They followed that up with a first-place finish (6:28.8) in the afternoon, beating out Washington State by 4.6 seconds.
The Wolverines’ second varsity eight crew came out of the gate rowing hard, taking Saturday morning’s race with a time of 6:55.3. There was no letting up in the afternoon either, as they garnered another first-place finish with a time of 6:31.6.
Both of Michigan’s varsity four crews swept their competition in the Saturday races. Then Sunday brought the 2V4 crew’s second victory over Virginia, as well as second-place finishes across the board for the 1V8, 2V8 and 1V4 crews.
“We wanted to race really hard, and I think we did that,” Rothstein said. “We got better as the weekend went on, which I think is a testament to the hard work and training the athletes have put in.
“This was a really interesting race because we raced so many teams from around the country. There were West Coast teams, and probably five or six different conferences were represented.”
According to Rothstein, the weekend served as a good prelude for the kind of competition the Wolverines will see in the NCAA Championships, which take place at the end of next month in California. The team’s performance in South Carolina will also likely put it in better position in terms of seeding for the championships.
Before that, Michigan has one final home date with Louisville and Michigan State, taking place on April 30, and the Big Ten Championships, which are on May 14 and 15.