The seniors on the Michigan women’s rowing team didn’t get to walk at the commencement ceremony Saturday at Michigan Stadium.
Instead, they had one more opportunity to race on Belleville Lake and earn victories against Louisville and Michigan State to cap their final regular season.
“It’s nice to be able to race at home on graduation weekend, and to have a ceremony for our seniors in their last home race,” said Michigan coach Mark Rothstein. “It was a lot of fun.”
The Wolverines swept all four varsity races — the first varsity eight, second varsity eight, first varsity four and second varsity four — and split the two novice races.
Michigan expected those results, though, after outperforming Michigan State in two separate exhibitions and besting Louisville at the Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational on Mar. 12-13.
Saturday, the closest varsity race was the second varsity eight, in which Michigan won by 4.32 seconds and a little more than one boat length. The Wolverines’ first varsity eight crew beat Michigan State by 7.49 seconds at 6:13.98. The margins in the varsity four boats were more comfortable, 15.63 seconds in the second varsity four and 18.83 in the first.
Rothstein made changes to his lineup even in the last regular-season meet and had success with them. The first varsity eight boat Saturday finished with its fastest time of all the scoring meets this season, improving on a 6:15.9 from Mar. 12.
Rothstein didn’t rule out making more tweaks before the Big Ten Championships on May 14-15.
“It’s something we always look at, right up until the end,” he said. “We’ll see. It’s possible.”
No matter what personnel Rothstein chooses, his team will be up against a difficult opponent in three-time defending national champion Ohio State. In last year’s Big Ten Championships, Michigan trailed only the Buckeyes, coming in second place.
Over the next two weeks before the event, the team will embark on Camp Wolverine, stepping up its training schedule in preparation for the postseason, where it will need to make a significant improvement to outlast Ohio State.
“We’re going to have to have our best regatta of the year across the board,” Rothstein said, “and probably have a few upsets in a couple different events to be able to win.”