From the patio for spectators, fans could only see a short stretch of the race where the first varsity eight boats from either team went toe-to-toe before disappearing from view to cross the line further down the lake.
What they missed was the Michigan rowing team dominating the pace of not just the race, but the entire meet against Louisville on Senior Day.
After the initial push in which the Wolverines created separation with the 1V8 boats, the Cardinals fought back to create a one-seat gap between the two boats. Passing the third 500 meters however, the difference in skill became evident.
Michigan pulled away. But the Cardinals didn’t go down without a fight — instead choosing to chip away at the open water in order to create a slim chance of a potential comeback.
Teetering back and forth between an open-water and a seat lead, the Wolverines fended off any attack Louisville could muster by continuing their set pace and claimed the first varsity eight boat victory with a time of 6:21.00.
“I thought we had a pretty good first 500,” said Michigan coach Mark Rothstein. “And we didn’t row real well in the third 500, and then Louisville moved into us a little but then I thought we had a pretty good last 500. We got some work to do but it was a good victory.”
The second varsity eight boat saw a similar situation but an even better result. Going aggressively from the start, the 2V8 boat for the Wolverines created an early open-water lead that didn’t diminish any time through the race despite a last ditch effort by Louisville to lessen the gap in the end.
Michigan ended the race with a time of 6:31.00 — a little over 10 seconds faster than the Cardinal boat.
“You want to have a good start,” Rothstein said. “You want to get out in a lead, but I thought they did a pretty good job of continuing to extend through the race.”
The dominance didn’t stop at just the top two varsity eight boats. The Wolverines swept the entire meet, including a win for Michigan’s first varsity four B boat. The first varsity four boats provided a look at the depth the team had been working toward all season. The 1V4 boat and 1V4 B boat recorded a time of 7:08.80 and 7:13.94, respectively — a 17.80-second gap between Michigan’s latest time and Louisville’s best for the event.
“I thought our fours did a great job,” Rothstein said. “I thought our third four had a nice victory in a competitive race, and I thought our novice boat, same thing, had a really good competitive race, and they were able to get the victory so that was really good.”