Despite a two-hour delay at the start, the members of Michigan men”s rowing team were both eager and ready to hit the water against Ohio State. A heavy fog Saturday morning made it indiscernible where the sky ended and the water began. The haze over Argo Pond left athletes, coaches and spectators cold and wondering when it would burn off.

Bandemere Park, the land surrounding the pond, was a beautiful setting for the race once its veil was lifted. The Nichols Arboretum, provided the backdrop for a heated contest between the rivals. The Wolverines used their sheer numbers to overwhelm Ohio State 20-10 in the 1500-meter sprints.

“The results really reflected the depth of our team,” Michigan assistant coach John Clark said. “We had real strength all the way into our third varsity eight and even to our fourth varsity eight.” Scored races included three varsity and one freshman event.

The freshman and third varsity winner receives six points each. The second varsity winner gets eight and the first varsity gets ten points.

Cheers of O-H-I-O were not enough to push the visiting team ahead of the Wolverines. Despite the score, the team was slightly disappointed with the day”s results. The rowers have dominated the Buckeyes in the past, making Saturday”s score a little too close for comfort.

“We generally think that every one of our boats should beat Ohio State”s,” Michigan senior Mike Christianson said. “I think that Ohio State just did a really good job of preparing for this race.”

Michigan raced 10 boats in four races compared to Ohio State”s seven. The 83-man roster successfully retained the Wolver-Buck oar for the sixth straight year. The winner of the meet gets the Wolver-Buck until the next meet. The oar blade is painted half maize and blue and half scarlet and gray. Michigan now leads the all-time series 8-2.

College rowing teams are usually separated into two divisions freshman/novice and varsity. Both squads are divided and placed into boats depending on skill level. There are the first eight, second eight and so on.

The majority of races place eight men in a boat and one coxswain. The coxswain is responsible for steering and running the game plan.

The program is starting to gain some recognition across campus. In the past the team had trouble fielding a full squad. This year some were turned away.

“I remember a time when we were practically begging guys to stay,” said Michigan coach Gregg Hartsuff. “Now we have built it to a point where they are still paying some hefty dues, yet begging to be on the team.”

The team spent $2,400 on recruiting efforts this fall. Every freshman male received a four-page brochure and a welcome letter on team letterhead. Posters were placed in dorms and a table was run on the diag. One hundred people attended the first mass meeting to inquire about the team.

“The word is out on campus that this is a serious commitment,” Hartsuff said. “So the recreational types tend to stay away, which is fine by me.”

The club looks for tall, athletic men who want to work hard. Strength and endurance is key to becoming a successful rower. Most members of the team have no prior experience. While technique can be taught, pride and a strong work ethic must be already instilled.

“Our coach has a training plan that goes through different phases throughout the year,” senior Derek Delmonte said. “In the fall we do a lot of aerobic-based training in addition to monthly erg tests.”

The ergometer is an indoor rowing machine that the team uses to chart progress. Since there were so many men trying out for the team, Hartsuff used the ergometer and other strength and endurance measures to make cuts.

“I made it known during the summer what selection would be based on,” Hartsuff said. “A four-K erg test, their choice of either the stadium run or a two dam-to-dam time trial on Argoand to a degree what they had achieved on the team up until that point.”

The team will now move indoors for winter training. The fall is used to prepare for the spring season. During the fall, the squad trains for endurance and competes mostly in longer races between two and three and a half miles. As spring approaches workouts will become shorter and more intense focusing for the shorter sprints.

“Our goal in the spring, pretty much, is to be a top-eight team at the national championships in Kansas,” Christianson said.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.