The Michigan rowing team set out on the water in Columbus this weekend with Olympians in the spotlight. With Rio de Janeiro experience behind both teams in contention, the Wolverines scrimmaged Ohio State on Sunday, helping them to assess their abilities in the fall season.
The Wolverines had Olympians to sport, with three former team members joining the coaching staff following their return from the 2016 Olympic Games. In the water, the Wolverines faced off in pairs rowing against 2016 Olympian and Ohio State athlete Elodie Ravera-Scaramozzino in her Olympic event, women’s doubles skulls rowing.
Michigan competed well against the Buckeyes, with strong performances in the race’s 2×4.5-kilometer format carrying the team’s momentum following last week’s successful performance against Eastern Michigan.
Since the team’s primary competitive season is in the spring, this scrimmage allowed the Wolverines to gauge their performances in a more relaxed environment.
While the team’s major races in the spring are in boats of four to eight athletes, Sunday’s scrimmage featured six boats of two rowers each and three boats of eight rowers. The isolated nature of the pairs rowing allowed the athletes to assess their performances closely, allowing for growth and targeted practices to improve their performances as they approach more significant meets.
The boats were released in a staggered fashion, also known as head-style. Because of this, the boats could not visually compare themselves to each other in order to gauge their performance and were left to race against the clock.
Sunday’s conditions were favorable to the Wolverines, as they remained successful under sunny skies in Upper Arlington, Ohio, as the duo of Katie Wright and Kendall Brewer finished first overall in the pairs races with a combined time of 35:52 in the two 4.5-kilometer races. While they finished the first race with an 18-second lead over the Buckeyes’ leading boat, their second race finished with a closer gap of only six seconds, with Ohio State taking second again.
Michigan also raced three eights boats against one Buckeye eights team. Ohio State came out on top in the first eights race with a time of 15:14, but Michigan senior Alexis Jones coxed the Wolverines to the front of the pack with a time of 15:57, finishing eight seconds ahead of the Buckeyes’ second place boat.
“I thought it went well,” said head coach Mark Rothstein. “It’s the beginning of the season, so it’s early, and there’s a lot of development happening right now.”