Two weeks after winning the Big Ten championship and two weeks
before the NCAA finals, the Michigan Rowing team has yet to hit its
peak.

This is a good thing.

The No. 3 Wolverines finished in third place yesterday at the
Lexus Central/South Region Sprints at Melton Hill Lake in Oakridge,
Tenn.

Michigan coach Mark Rothstein believes the Wolverines finished
well enough to earn a selection to the NCAA Championships.

“We did what we needed to do — we qualified for
nationals,” Rothstein said. “(Qualifying for nationals)
was our primary goal.”

The NCAA will make the official announcement on Tuesday.

The Wolverines finished behind Ohio State and within one point
of second-place Wisconsin, two teams Michigan beat just two weeks
ago when it captured the conference title.

But outright-victory at the Central Region Sprints wasn’t
the Wolverines main objective.

“We wanted to finish well enough (in the region) to make
it to the NCAA Championships,” Rothstein said. “Our
goal is to hit our peak at the end of the season. I don’t
think we’ve hit our peak yet.”

Despite sweeping the preliminary and semifinal heats yesterday,
Michigan’s First Varsity Eight finished third behind Ohio
State and Virginia with a time of 6:39.3.

“Ohio State and Virginia are very good crews and we were
going to have to have a great race to beat them,” Rothstein
said. “I don’t think we had a great race. I think we
didn’t have a good rhythm, and I think we were a little flat
emotionally.”

Michigan’s First Varsity Four team was just as flat. The
squad finished in last place yesterday despite finishing second in
the semifinal heat on Saturday. Rothstein attributed the
squads’ finishes to the team’s up-and-down emotional
state.

“I think we were flat (yesterday),” said Rothstein
about Michigan’s overall performance. “I’m not
upset about that because I think we had a very emotional victory at
(the Big Ten Championship), and we have another huge race two weeks
from now, so it’s very hard to be up emotionally.”

Even though Michigan defeated Wisconsin in three out of the four
major races, the Wolverines finished with 362 total points, one
point shy of the Badgers. Wisconsin earned additional points from
the novice competitions, a level which the NCAA selection committee
doesn’t use in evaluating the teams that qualify for the
Championships.

The Wolverines received positive news last week. The Big Ten
named senior Heather Mandoli as the Conference Women’s Rowing
Athlete of the Year and Mark Rothstein as the Big Ten Coach of the
Year.

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