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Iowa rows to top-10

BY TRAVIS VARNER | OCTOBER 13, 2009 7:20 AM

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The Iowa rowing team placed at least one boat in the top 10 in each race entered at the Head of the Rock on Sunday in Rockford, Ill.

Wisconsin finished first in all three women’s collegiate races of the day: the pairs, 4s, and 8s.

Although Iowa failed to cross the finish line with the fastest time, the Hawkeyes closed the gap in the collegiate 8s race from last year’s 25-second differential to seven seconds.

Head coach Mandi Kowal said Wisconsin is a strong program, and it will always be difficult to surpass the Badgers. Nevertheless, the Hawkeyes improved substantially.

“I was pleased with the improvements made over last year,” she said. “Wisconsin continues to show great speed, and I am pleased to see we closed the gap in the 8s race.”

The margin of victory was not so close in the 4s race, with Iowa’s top finishing boat placing seventh, 58 seconds behind Wisconsin.

Kowal had hoped for a better placing in the standings after the race, she said, but she was still pleased with the team’s performance — especially the top Iowa 4 on Sunday.

The seventh-place 4 was actually registered as the “B” boat and wasn’t expected to be the fastest Iowa boat entering the 4s.

Kowal said coxswain Emily Melvold deserves a great deal of credit for the performance, noting she was serious, sound, and steered a great course.

“Emily Melvold did a really good job,” Kowal said. “How they approached the race and the calls she made … she just let them race it. They just looked really nice and light, tapping along. I didn’t expect that crew to look that way, and they just had a great race.”

The junior said she memorized the course via a PowerPoint presentation, which enabled her to steer the straightest course. It also helped her motivate her crew at critical moments.

“I looked at that and tried to memorize the focal points of the race in terms of landmarks and meter splits,” the former DIreporter said.

Another positive for the Hawkeye rowers on Sunday was their performance in the pairs race, placing three boats in the top 10.

Kowal said she thought the pairs looked a little flat at the previous race in Des Moines, but the boats appeared aggressive and consistent in Rockford.

Without looking at the times, she said she thought the pairs finished better based upon effort and technique. The pairs may need a little bit of tweaking with their lineups, though.

“If I’m looking at places, I’m disappointed, but if I know what I seen at practice and what we did [on Sunday], I’m pleased,” Kowal said. “I think we can mess with the pair combinations a little bit. If you hook up with the right partner, you can have some great rowing going on.”

Junior rower Jess Novack said the team’s performance is going to be a massive momentum boost heading into the next event — the Head of the Iowa in Iowa City on Oct. 25.

“It’s really just going to lead into this week,” she said, “light our fire for Head of the Iowa at home when we get to race in front of all our fans.”


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