BELLEVILLE – Sitting on the starting line waiting for the third piece to commence, their legs began to shake. With the sun in their eyes and sweat dripping down their faces, the rowers listened anxiously for the coaches to start the race. Although they were trailing in the beginning of the piece, the boat kept its composure and was able to pass the Buckeyes in the third 500-meter leg of the contest, which was actually a scrimmage.
The varsity four was especially remarkable, sweeping Ohio State in all five of their pieces. They were able to put their minds over matter and persevere through the day with the guidance of coxswain Jessica Shanahan.
“We spent a lot of time working on really attacking every piece as one boat the last couple of weeks and working on good rhythm and pressure in the boat,” sophomore stroke seat Casey Griswold said.
The boat executed its race plan exactly as planned this week.
Both of the varsity eights held their ground as well, but because the outcomes of each piece varied so much, it was unclear as to who came out ahead overall. Each boat had a first-place finish in at least one piece, so it’s fair to say that everyone came out victorious.
Michigan coach Mark Rothstein was very pleased with the effort.
“Rowing against a formidable program like Ohio State gives us a good idea of where we stand,” Rothstein said
Because this event wasn’t a formal competition, the boats had a limit of 25 strokes per minute and could race in mixed lineups. In the real season, the boats will be stroking as high as 35 strokes per minute and “boating up” – or setting strategic crews on the boats – instead of mixing the roster. Although none of the teams are expected to reach their peak performance in the fall, this is a good starting point for the Wolverines.
With the team battling a number of injuries and illnesses, its effort today was nothing less than impressive. Rothstein said that the injuries are not a big concern at this point, but he hopes that his team will use this time to revamp for the season.
Michigan will compete in its first official competition at the Head of the Charles on Oct. 23 in Boston. Rothstein said he was unsure of whether or not he’d keep the lineups mixed for that event. The Wolverines hope to use this competition against Ohio State as a gauge of what they need to work on to prepare for that race.
Months of hard work lie ahead for these young women to get to where they need to be for the spring. If they keep turning in impressive performances like this one, the Wolverines feel they will have less to worry about on the starting line, and more importantly, the finish line.