Against the backdrop of a cold, gray day, the Michigan women’s rowing team competed in the Belleville Classic. Held at the women’s home course, both sides showed up ready for a race that wasn’t quite as serious as previous matches — it was a friendly exhibition race against the men’s club team.

“This is a good joint event because the teams don’t often cross paths,” said graduate assistant Nellie Ruedig.

The 4,500-meter race was less about winning than about fun. The low-key atmosphere served as a place where both teams could show their pride in Michigan rowing, and Ruedig noted that a lot of camaraderie and friendship was developed.

The goal of the race was to have all of the boats finish at the same time, and the boats, both men’s and women’s, were all seeded according to race times from previous events. The boats then were given staggered start times, so that all crossed the finish in close fashion. The true competition was seeing which groups beat their seeding by the biggest margin.

The race featured 10 women’s boats, eight men’s boats and one alumni boat. The women’s side featured five varsity boats and five novice boats. For the men, there were four varsity crews and four freshman boats.

The women’s varsity four, headed by sophomore coxswain Andie Cara, exceeded the coaches’ expectations despite being the lowest seed, and was deemed the winner of the event, Ruedig said.

This was the last event of the fall season for the Wolverines. Their next competition is a scrimmage against Central Florida. The team hopes to repeat as Big Ten champions and compete for a national title, as it fell short last year, finishing second.

On the other side, the men’s club team has won six straight national titles and is looking to make it seven.

“These are two strong programs, and the rowers are passionate about Michigan rowing,” Ruedig said.

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