On Saturday at noon, there were some still dressed in unicorn costumes from the previous evening’s Halloween festivities. But the rowers sported their unisuits instead. With the block ‘M’ on their backs, the Michigan crew team turned in a mixed performance in South Bend this weekend on the St. Joseph’s River.

The varsity eight and four’s “A” crews performed well – both placing 3rd. But the “B” eight and four left something to be desired in their head races against Michigan State and Notre Dame. The teams finished in sixth and seventh place, respectively In head races, where boats do not race next to each other, there is a running start and rowers are already at full speed when they cross the starting line.

Coming off of an impressive effort at the Head of the Charles last weekend in Boston, while the first eight placed seventh out of 49 boats, the team hoped to end the fall season with a bang. The top 15 rowers were boated evenly in the two eights and only practiced for one day together prior to the race, not giving them much time to gel.

“We weren’t moving together,” said sophomore Caitlin McAllister, who was seated in the “B” eight. She added that, going into the winter season, “we know we need to get a lot faster and this is great motivation to work hard on the ergs.”

Although the varsity fall season has concluded, this race was just the beginning for the novices. In their first race ever, the “A” novice boat came out victorious, and the “B” and “C” boats placed fourth and eighth respectively. The team set high standards for itself and hopes to improve in its competition against Eastern Michigan next Saturday at Belleville Lake.

But this was the first time the entire team had a chance to travel together this season.

“It’s great to travel with the whole team because it’s fun to see all of the new faces on the novice team and how all of the different personalities on our team come together,” former novice and current varsity rower Carrie Kraeger said.

Some chapters are coming to a close while others are just starting to open for the Wolverines this fall. The team has about two weeks left on the water before its focus turns to the ergs in order to get stronger and faster for the spring. The athletes won’t be wearing their unisuits for another six months or so, but when they do, they plan to live up to the tradition that the “M” on their backs represents.

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