BELLEVILLE – Around 9:40 a.m. Sunday morning, a group of Michigan and Eastern Michigan fans had bunched around the outside of Michigan’s boathouse. A few of them had edged out to the lake and were well into a quiet game of fetch in the water with a couple of dogs.
But at about 9:50 a.m., the voices of five different coxswains could be heard breaking the quiet — four of which belonged to the Michigan women’s rowing team.
The Wolverines began their season this past Saturday in an unscored workout scrimmage against Eastern Michigan at their home course on Belleville Lake. Michigan brought four different lineups, all eights, while the Eagles brought a single eight boat. The event was a head race, where the boats have a staggered start and the winner is gauged by time and not a finish line.
It was a non-scoring scrimmage, but the Wolverines dominated the event, even though they’ve had less than two weeks of practice. The 2V8 finished first in every race, followed by either the 1V8 or 3V8. Eastern Michigan finished last in every race except for the first, where it edged out the fourth Michigan boat by less than a second.
“I think it was really good because we didn’t really know how the Michigan boats would stack up against Eastern or how we would stack up against each other,” said senior starboard Sarah Hudnall, who was a member of the 2V8 crew. “It was really good to just go out and race.”
The Wolverines have been working on speed and updating their rhythm, and this race was a good chance for them to test where they are in a competitive setting.
“You could tell that everyone was working really hard,” Hudnall said. “We started in different orders every time, so it was a good chance to stay in good position — so if you were in the back, it was a good chance to try to get in the front, and if you were in the front it was a good opportunity to try to hold your spot.”
With just three additional races scheduled for the fall — Ohio State, Head of the Charles, and a novice-only race with Michigan State — this scrimmage puts the team in a good position to finish out its fall season in high standing.
“I thought it went good,” said Michigan coach Mark Rothstein. “I thought we did a pretty good job of applying what we learned in practice and I think that like every team we have a lot to work on, but I like what I’ve seen from this team so far.”