Rowing ready for home meet

BY NICK GANS | APRIL 09, 2010 7:30 AM

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Saturday’s meet for the Iowa rowing team will be unlike other this spring. The Hawkeyes will row on Iowa waters for the first and only time during their two-month second-half stretch.

The action will take place on Lake Macbride starting at 9 a.m.

Saturday’s events will also mark a reunion between the Wisconsin program that once provided Iowa head coach Mandi Kowal with a stellar career.

“Every meet is important to me — not just the ones against the school I went to,” she said.

Wisconsin is No. 11 in the most recent College Coaches poll. The other two schools at the meet — Minnesota and Louisville — have received votes in the rankings alongside Iowa.

The Big Ten trio will bring two varsity 8s, two varsity 4s, and two novice 8s to Lake Macbride.

Last weekend in the Pac-10 Challenge on April 3, Iowa failed to notch a victory. But Kowal said the Hawkeyes won’t face competition such as Stanford and California — both of which field Olympic rowers this year.

But the 16-year head coach said her team deserves a win for the way it has competed thus far in the season.

“I always tell my team, ‘We can’t control other teams, but we can control what we do,’ ” she said. “We’re going to try some different things to improve as a team.”

The things Kowal plans to change are the lineups, in addition to the team’s technique. She and assistant coach Carrie Callen have practiced on lengthening the stroke of their rowers, which in turn, Kowal said, will increase the rowers’ driving speed.

The lineup changes are still to be determined, Callen said. Some Hawkeye rowers were injured for the Pac-10 Challenge. By moving some people around, Callen said, she hopes to find the fastest combination for this week and beyond.

“This group I have is very good at taking on challenges and changes,” Kowal said. “They always follow our plan, and I never feel this group doesn’t go after it all the time.”

The challenge the Iowa coaches and rowers can’t prepare for, though, is the weather.

“I believe any time an institution hosts an event, they hope that it runs smoothly,” Callen said. “Our event management staff does a great job in covering all bases and consistently hosts great events. A little sunshine and low winds wouldn’t hurt either.”

Kowal said, “[We] feel really bad when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. The weather may say 71 and sunny. But if it’s windy, I’d rather have 50-degree weather and rain. Luckily though, we may have some cooperative winds this week.”

With temperatures expected to reach 70 and a new technique and lineup, she said, the Hawkeyes have plenty to learn from this weekend.

“Last week, we learned that we don’t quit,” she said. “Even when we were behind, we rowed hard. Against the teams this week, we hope to win some.”

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