Just nine minutes into the second race of the day, the Michigan women’s rowing team’s first boat, after starting in eighth place, overtook Penn’s boat to slide into third. At the same moment, the New York Athletic Club came up from behind and pushed the Wolverines into fourth. But the Wolverines kept steady on the meter of first-eight junior coxswain Nadia Roohparvar for the next seven minutes. Michigan went on to give up only one spot to first bow-number Brown in the final stretch for a top-five finish. 

This weekend, the Wolverines sent two eights to the 52nd annual Head of the Charles regatta in Boston. Competing Sunday against 33 other boats, both Michigan’s first and second eights placed in the top 10 of the women’s championship race.

“Practices have been intense,” Roohparvar said. “There’s been a lot of switching between boats; I think people have been really stepping up to the challenge … Lots of the results (Sunday) were exceeding expectation for this point in the season.” 

The race began with Michigan’s first eight in eighth place, and its second eight in 15th overall. After passing the first marker at 4:12.083, the second boat was in 18th place. Within five minutes, at the Weld marker, the crew pushed itself to 10th.

The first eight’s race was also a battle from start to finish. The crew began the race strong behind Yale, Cambridge and Penn by just two seconds at 4:01.827.

The talk of the race from Michigan’s end was volunteer assistant coach, Felice Mueller, who rowed for the New York Athletic Club. Her boat overtook the Wolverines at the second marker, just as Michigan overtook Penn at time 9:29.775.

While the second eight looked to make their way up to ninth, the first eight looked to maintain their top-five place. Past the CBC marker at just over 14 minutes, Brown inched just past the Wolverines. Unable to take back fourth in the final two minutes, Michigan maintained its lead over Virginia by under seven seconds for a fifth-place finish time of 16:53.339.

Though it was a picturesque day on the Charles River, high-speed winds made the course challenging. As much as the race was about strong rowing, the conditions made it also a tough test of steering and planning. According to Roohparvar, the start of the race was particularly windy.

“There’s a lot of chaos, and you kind of have to keep your cool,” she said. “The start was really, really windy, but we were able to make up a lot of ground because we dealt with it better than a lot of crews did.”

Coach Mark Rothstein highlighted Roohparvar and second-eight coxswain freshman Kathryn Boyle, as well as stroke seats Kaitlin Wright and second-eight senior Tessa Yurko.

“There’s a lot of steering, and it’s important for the coxswains to manage that well,” Rothstein said. “I thought both our stroke seats set really good rhymes. I feel good about the results, a much stronger result than we had last year.”

Correction Appended: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed two quotes from first-eight coxswain Nadia Roohparvar to first-eight stroke Kaitlyn Wright. The earlier version also mistakenly referred to Wright as the first-eight coxswain.

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