The Michigan women’s rowing team adopted a more rigorous training program over the winter, and it paid off on Saturday as the third-ranked Wolverines won nine events at Griggs Reservoir in Columbus.
A week after defeating Princeton and defending national champion Brown, both of the Wolverines’ varsity-eight squads went unbeaten, sweeping No. 12 Michigan State and No. 9 Yale. In the morning, the first varsity-eight rowed 6:18.10, outpacing its rival from East Lansing (6:30.69). The second varsity-eight followed with a time of 6:32.24, overwhelming the Spartans by almost 28 seconds (6:50.15). Later in the day, the first varsity-eight (6:16.7) defeated Yale (6:28.92) and the second varsity-eight (6:25.62) followed suit.
The second varsity-eight has yet to lose this year.
“I’m pleased with our performance,” said Michigan second-varsity senior Ariel Piotter. “We have a remarkable group of seniors, and we’ve really come together.”
Michigan coach Mark Rothstein praised the grit of the second-varsity squad, highlighting Piotter’s effort all season long.
“Piotter has been having an outstanding year,” Rothstein said. “Her hard work is paying off.”
The Wolverines also won the first varsity-four against Michigan State, while both the second varsity-four and the first novice-eight swept the Spartans and Bulldogs. Michigan’s only defeats came in the first varsity-four to Yale, both third varsity-four events, and the second novice-eight.
Piotter attributes the Wolverines’ success to a new practice regimen implemented by the coaches this year. Borrowing tactics from other elite programs across the country and even the women’s national team, Rothstein made each practice more competitive, introducing a training program that pushes rowers to improve every day.
“No one has a chance to take an off-week,” Piotter said. “It’s helped tremendously.”
After Michigan’s impressive performances against Princeton and Brown last weekend, first-varsity coxswain Colleen Macke said the team struggled at first to focus for the competition in Columbus. Then, the players decided to use the matchup against arch-rival Michigan State as motivation.
“It’s always a big deal for us to face them and to come home with a win, so it helped us refocus in practice,” Macke said.
While Rothstein was happy with Michigan’s performance, he stressed that the Wolverines are not competing at the level he expects. He noted several technical issues that he hopes his new training program will alleviate quickly.
“It was a good day, but all of our boats have improvements we need to make,” Rothstein said.
Michigan will next hit the water in Iowa City on Saturday, where it will face Iowa and Louisville. The women’s rowing team will then host its only home event of the season on April 14th, as the Wolverines continue their preparation for the Big Ten Championships.
“We have a lot of seniors, and this is their last chance to win a Big Ten Championship,” Macke said. “We’re doing it for the seniors.”