By Sylvanna Gross, Daily Sports Writer
Published April 5, 2015
Senior captain Alex Spaulding predicted after last week’s disappointing season opener in Princeton that experience battling inclement weather would be crucial to the Michigan rowing team’s success.
Saturday, the weather remained equally challenging to combat. With winds blowing at 20 miles per hour, the sixth-ranked Wolverines were prepared.
They traveled to Lake Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia for a double-dual meet against Clemson and No. 4 Virginia. Navy competed as a guest, while Ohio State made an appearance in its own double-dual meet against the same teams.
Michigan coach Mark Rothstein credited the finish to his team’s ability to quickly get over its struggles during last week’s practice, citing Tuesday as the best performance he has seen out of his athletes.
“Last weekend was disappointing,” Rothstein said. “But we came back to Michigan and had some really great practices, especially on Tuesday. It shows character to come back from a weekend like that and do this well.”
The Wolverines earned first place in four of the five varsity events scheduled in the morning against Clemson. The 1V8 boat set the stage as the first race of the day, coming in at 6:30.9 to earn first by five seconds. The Wolverine boats quickly followed suit with the 1V4 (7:19.4), 2V8 (6:34.4) and 2V4 (7:23.7) rowing their way to first-place finishes.
The afternoon races against Virginia were tighter sprints, but the Wolverines managed to scoop up another first-place win with their 1V8 (6:22.36) as the closing race of the day. The 2V4 (7:32.1), 1V4 (7:30.6) and the 2V8 (6:29.7) all came in second behind Virginia.
The most exciting moment of the dual meet came in the second 1V8 race, when in the final 250 meters, Virginia went neck to neck with Michigan, before the Wolverines quickly pulled ahead and won by less than two-tenths of a second. The win marks the second straight year that the Wolverines have defeated the Cavaliers.
“This is a step towards showing what this team is capable of,” Rothstein said. “I’m really proud, and I think we’re moving in the right direction. Virginia is a great competitor and has a lot of speed, so it was a challenge, but we did well.”
The novice boats made their season debut with a particularly strong performance by the 1N8 with a time of 7:00.7 against Clemson. Michigan fought hard against the Tigers, but finished less than a second behind them for second place.
Though Michigan didn’t compete directly against Ohio State, the Buckeyes had better times than the Wolverines in every race. The two teams will go head to head in two weeks.
Before the rivalry matchup though, Michigan will host its first home race, a dual meet against Indiana and Iowa.
“We have everything we need,” Rothstein said. “We have great athletes and a great team. It’s great to race at home with all our families and fans and to cut out travel. We’re going to be fast.”
Another prediction for another weekend.