BELLEVILLE – Slicing through the thin fog blanketing Belleville Lake, Michigan’s novice rowing squad out-raced Eastern Michigan in all five races Saturday.
For the races, three Michigan boats and one Eastern Michigan boat lined up at the starting line and raced a five-minute set to the opposite end of the lake. The boats then turned around and repeated the process four times.
Michigan’s first and second boats led in each race and, in the fourth sprint, all Michigan boats finished ahead of the Eagles.
Coming off a tough race against Notre Dame last weekend, the Wolverine novices were looking to boost their confidence in preparation for the winter training season.
“(The regatta gave) us something really good to build off of,” freshman novice Michale Musto said. “Because otherwise we have no idea what we are actually training for. It just gives the girls (that have no rowing experience) a taste of competition.”
In rowing, the season is split between winter races – usually four to five kilometers – and spring races, which are 2 kilometers.
Between the two racing seasons, the team focuses heavily on strength and endurance training. Saturday’s race, according to freshmen Hannah Darnton, gave the squad a taste of competition while putting the early morning training sessions into perspective.
Coming from a variety of athletic backgrounds, the staple of the novice team is their athleticism. And, according to second year coach Vita Scaglino, the varying concentrations help the team in that each girl brings different skills to the table. In turn, each member learns from one another.
For novice rowing, all recruiting is on campus. In late summer, Scaglino sends out thousands of letters to young women enrolled at the University. She then shifts through the responses, looking for those that, on paper, fit the profile of a rower. Scaglino noted though that, this season, the team got lucky in that some women signed up for the program that had prior rowing experience.
Freshmen Darnton, Liz McCannell and Musto rowed throughout high school for club teams and high school squads. The three expressed that the experience gave them an opportunity to teach their skills to the novices, in turn, making themselves better.
Still, rowing offers women the unique opportunity to participate in a varsity sport without any prior experience. Many young women on the squad played two to three sports in high school and were not accustomed to the new freedoms that college offers. Sophomore Ashley Hinton joined the team in the fall.
“I missed competition, and crew offers that,” Hinton said. “Crew also brings with it a great community of commitment to exercise and self-discipline.”