Settle in two … one … two …
On junior coxswain Erik Yasuda’s call, the 2V8 made a dramatic shift. At the settle, the rowers elongated their stroke in unison from the quick, choppy catches of the starting sequence to a more sustainable racing pace against Ohio State.
By the end of the day Saturday — facing the Buckeyes and Rutgers at the Big Ten Double Dual — the No. 5 Michigan rowing team had finished first in 11 of the 14 total races.
Through the starting sequence and the following high strokes, the Wolverines battled Ohio State to get out in front with neither team able to take a commanding lead.
With this settle stroke, the boat found its rhythm. Michigan jumped up two seats at the 500-meter mark and never let up, something senior Shayla Lamb credits to the boat’s single-minded focus.
“It had to do with our base pace,” Lamb said. “That’s something we’ve been working on: getting into our rhythm and staying internal. I think that’s something we’ll keep working on to get better.”
Michigan increased its lead by inches with every stroke, taking a decisive lead by the time the boat crossed the 1,250-meter mark. Taking control of the race gave the Wolverines the confidence and control they needed to keep walking away into the second 1,000 meters.
As the last 500 meters came up, 2V8 got ready to take another move to seal the victory.
“We worked on sprinting quite a lot — well, no not quite a lot — but we’ve worked on making those moves at the end,” Lamb said. “That’s something we (have) gotten more experience with in the past couple of weeks. It’s nice to have that in our back pocket.”
While they knew they had this skill at their disposal, they didn’t have to rely on it. Despite Ohio State’s best efforts, Michigan only increased its lead in the sprint, finishing the race half a boat length up on its competition.
The 2V8 boat went on to beat Rutgers by over 10 seconds, though other boats experienced mixed results.
The 1V8 was edged out by the Buckeyes, but found redemption against the Scarlet Knights later in the day. Despite the loss — its first of the season — Michigan coach Mark Rothstein was content with the race.
“Our boat raced really hard and showed a lot of toughness,” Rothstein said.
That boat — led by freshman Jessica Schoonbee in stroke seat — fell short by a mere .96 seconds and finished in 6:22.04 minutes.
Other freshmen prevailed in the 1N8 which beat out both of its opponents.
The first two fours also found success against Rutgers. The 1V4 lost to Ohio State while the 2V4 beat them by eight seconds.
Despite the overall success of the weekend, Michigan has some room for improvement — especially as the 1V8 will have a chance to redeem itself against Ohio State next weekend at Lake Las Vegas.
Lamb hinted she may know the key to success.
“We need to keep finding our rhythm early on and making that middle one (kilometer) ours.”