Small numbers didn’t deter the Michigan rowing team from making a solid showing at its first NCAA championship appearance since 2005.
The team delivered a respectable showing this weekend in Gold River, Calif., where the first varsity eight boat took fifth place in the petite final. The 10th-ranked Wolverines edged out Princeton with a time of 6:43.91 in the event to finish 11th overall out of 16.
After placing fourth in the preliminary round, Michigan advanced to the repechage, where it lost out on a second-place finish by just 0.33 seconds to Washington State. The Wolverines’ third-place finish advanced them to the semifinals where they placed sixth. That qualified them for the petite final, which took place yesterday morning.
Lacking depth, Michigan sent just its first varsity eight boat. Despite this, Michigan coach Mark Rothstein, who said he didn’t have expectations entering the event, was satisfied with the team’s showing.
“I’m really pleased with how we preformed,” said Rothstein.
Redshirt junior Karen Colwell said that, although only eight members made the cross-country trip, many more were there in spirit.
“We missed our team while we were out there,” she said. “It kind of made us realize how much the rest of the team helped us get there by pushing throughout the season.”
All of the members participating in the tournament have eligibility remaining, setting the stage for a strong showing next season. Making it to this year’s tournament was a promising sign for the future.
“We haven’t been to the national championship in a couple of years,” Colwell said. “I think we’re heading in the right direction.”
Colwell is indicative of the promise for next season; she has been earmarked for the U.S. National team. In addition to continuing to train current rowers, the Wolverines will gain three promising recruits who competed with the Junior National team.
If Michigan can build on this year’s progress, next season should be exciting according to Colwell.
“We definitely wanted more, and I think we’re hungry for more for next year,” she said.
Julie Rowe and Dan Feldman contributed to this report.