The 10th-ranked Michigan women’s rowing team was unable to come away from the weekend with an NCAA title. However, the Wolverines exceeded expectations when they finished fourth overall with 51 points, at the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis.
The first varsity eight posted a time of 6:28.58 in the Grand Final, and finished second behind Harvard, who clinched first place in the team championships with the win. It was the best performance by a Michigan varsity eight in the history of the seven-year program.
“[The first varsity eight] came in third at regionals and really rebounded well,” Michigan coach Mark Rothstein said. “Going from third at regionals to second at nationals is really impressive. I think losing at regionals was really good for the varsity eight. It gave them some perspective. They could have fallen apart, but they didn’t. They regrouped and raced really well all weekend.”
But the Wolverines couldn’t have placed fourth with just one boat racing well. Michigan displayed strong showings with its other boats to help round out the weekend. The second varsity eight placed third in the Petite Final – a consolation for boats that don’t make the Grand Final – and ninth overall with a time of 6:40.32. The first varsity four came away with a time of 7:24.83, good for third place.
“Coming into the weekend we felt like we could do well,” Rothstein said. “We wanted to get all of our boats into the finals. We ended up getting two of the three into the finals, but we tried not to put too many expectations on the rowers. The most impressive was the varsity eight, but the four did really well, too. I think it was our best regatta of the year. All of the boats performed really well.”
Michigan’s fourth place finish is the team’s third top five finish in three years. The team has a handful of seniors, but Rothstein was adamant Michigan would return to the top again next year.
“The team this year put our program at a good point,” Rothstein said. “We have a lot of returning rowers. The seniors have left a good legacy for next year’s team to build on.”