Braced with near perfect weather, the Michigan women’s rowing team took to Belleville Lake for its first competition of the year in an exhibition against Notre Dame, Michigan State and Eastern Michigan.

Throughout the untimed exhibition, it was clear the Wolverines were the best crew on the lake. Despite mixing and matching rowers from the top two varsity boats, Michigan placed first in four out of five waves in the first heat. Michigan State — the only other school to take home a first-place finish throughout the day — placed first in the third wave.

“Our goal is to win every time we come out here,” said Michigan coach Mark Rothstein. “Even though it was an exhibition, we still like to perform at our highest level.”

Competing with their third, fourth and fifth varsity boats, the Wolverines faced stiffer competition during the second heat. Michigan placed first just twice, winning both the fourth and fifth waves, and Michigan State won the first three waves of the heat.

With the year barely underway, Rothstein utilized this event to instruct some of his younger rowers — he could be seen coaching his rowers on the lake and in between waves.

“Coming out here this early in the season, it’s just a great way to teach and coach some of the younger girls that are out here,” senior port Felice Mueller said. “In general, I think we rowed pretty well today but we still have a lot of room for improvement and plenty of time to make that improvement.”

Assistant coach Annie Hildebrand expressed a similar sentiment. She recognized that the crew has only been together for a short time this year.

“It was a productive day,” Hildebrand said. “We’re still only about a week and a half into the school year — most of the teams out here today are in the same situation as us — so there’s still a lot of learning and improving we have to do. We have to really work on our fitness over the coming months.”

The Wolverines will return to competition in three weeks when they face Ohio State at home.

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