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Rowing hopes to continue early season success

BY TRAVIS VARNER | OCTOBER 09, 2009 7:20 AM

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The Iowa rowing team looks to build on momentum from its record-breaking performance at the Head of the Des Moines two weeks ago when the Hawkeyes travel to Rockford, Ill., for the Head of the Rock regatta on Oct. 11.

The Head of the Rock presents a different challenge to Iowa because the 2.75-mile course on the Rock River does not have many the landmarks or turns.

With only one turn and a lack of prominent landmarks, such as bridges, the rowing squad must conquer a subconscious tendency for teams to let up because of the perception of not making headway down the river.

Senior coxswain Sheila Rinozzi said the team has to remain mentally tough when attacking the course, which it may not be as visually exciting as others on the schedule.

“This race course at the Rock tends to be a lot more boring in a way,” Rinozzi said. “There’s nothing along the way until you get to the last stretch with all the fans and stuff.”

Iowa head coach Mandi Kowal said the lack of landmarks is a near non-issue and the bulk of attention should be on the level of competition Iowa is facing at the Head of the Rock. This race contains a much larger Division-I entry list, which includes Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Purdue, and Michigan State.

“We are going to a bigger regatta, and there are a high number of faster crews, so it ups the ante,” Kowal said.

The Iowa crew will be entering in three events at the Head of the Rock. But individual rowers will only be entering two events rather than the three they competed in at the Head of the Des Moines.

Senior rower Megan Erickson said she is happy with racing two races compared to three because the extra event leaves her exhausted. However, racing in fewer events presents more pressure for the rowers to succeed.

“We only have two opportunities to go out there and make a statement,” Erickson said. “We have to take advantage of whichever opportunities we get to really go out there and make a name for ourselves.”

The Hawkeyes finished second in the event last year.

Rinozzi said everyone must maintain a high sense of urgency if the team hopes to accomplish its goal of taking first place in every event its enters.

“We expect we’re going to win … but it’s going to be very hard because the other schools are extremely competitive,” Rinozzi said. “We’ve been doing a lot at practice, and we just need to carry it over to the race day.”


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