The Michigan women’s rowing team has faced challenging opponents in the past and this weekend’s events are destined to be just as exciting. The Wolverines will participate in their first official regatta of the year, tomorrow on Lake Carnegie at Princeton, N.J. against both Brown and Princeton.

Brown is the defending national champion and is the favorite this weekend against both Princeton and Michigan, who ended last season tied in points. Michigan coach Mark Rothstein, who has been the coach for the Wolverines since before the women’s crew program became a varsity sport, said that his team is very excited for the competition. Princeton finished seventh nationally last season while Michigan finished a close eight because the Tigers won varsity eight for the tie-breaker.

After a shaky start at the Head of the Charles Regatta in early October, Princeton’s performance has picked up considerably at both the Head of the Schuylkill and the Princeton Chase regattas. The Tigers were able to use their home advantage to win at the Chase regatta and place in the top three at Belly of the Carnegie regatta.

The rowers for all three teams are well known, repeatedly placing on the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association All-America Teams. Last year, Brown topped the list with three rowers on the team closely followed by Michigan and Princeton with two athletes apiece. The experience of two of the CRCA Central Region Team 2002 members, Leah Ketcheson, Kinesiology sophomore, and Erin Kopicki, LSA senior, of the first varsity eight team, will help lead the Wolverines this Spring season.

Coach Rothstein, CCRA Division I Women’s Coach of the Year in 2001, has been the coach long before the program became a varsity sport at Michigan seven years ago. This team has made great strides for a relatively new team, even beating out Brown, a top three contender every year, in 2001.

Michigan made its debut last weekend in South Bend against Notre Dame. Last weekend’s event was originally scheduled as a home meet, located at Belleville; however, the weather did not permit the home advantage. Rothstein explained that the team “ended up going down to Notre Dame, because we couldn’t get on the water.”

The team was able to practice on the St. Joseph River just Friday and scrimmaged on Saturday morning. While no official scores were recorded, the Wolverines were barely edged out by the Fighting Irish.

Unfortunately for the team, the weather could not permit earlier practices on the water. “Basically the ice was so thick this winter that it didn’t thaw even with the warm weather,” Rothstein said. “But we were finally able to get out on the water Tuesday.”

In order to make up for some of the lost water time, Coach Rothstein has increased practice time to two days on the water per week, ensuring that the rowers are prepared for what promises to be a thrilling competition this weekend.

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