Rowers go 1-1 against Big Ten foes

BY NICK GANS | APRIL 12, 2010 7:30 AM

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With sunny skies and a mild winds, the weather cooperated for the Iowa rowing team over the weekend.

The Hawkeyes had some of their best performances of the season on Lake Macbride, where they played host to Louisville and Big Ten rivals Minnesota and Wisconsin on April 10.

“The lake was extremely cooperative, and the rowers really enjoyed it,” head coach Mandi Kowal said. “I was just happy for the rowers, and they didn’t have to deal with the fighting Iowa weather.”

Iowa defeated Minnesota, 43-35, in the morning session before falling to Wisconsin, 52-26. But even in defeat, Kowal was particularly pleased with the performance of her Varsity 8s, which lost 07:00.3 to 06:55.7.

Kowal said the race was one of the most enjoyable ones she’s watched since arriving at Iowa over 16 years ago.

Wisconsin started off with its signature surge at the beginning, but Iowa quickly caught up.

“They rowed stroke for stroke, made great moves to catch up, and it went down to the wire,” Kowal said. “I was really proud with how they got better with keeping their speed, unlike when we raced in California.”

The Iowa rowers tasted victory numerous times against Minnesota, unlike in the Pac-10 Challenge on April 3. The Hawkeyes won the Varsity 8 (07:20.0 to 7:24.9), the second Varsity 8 (07:09.1 to 07:11.5), and the Novice 8 (07:29.1 to 07:41.1).

“After the Minnesota race, the group was definitely [happier],” Kowal said. “They deserved a win after their hard work.”

Assistant coach Carrie Callen said she wanted to see the rowers improve on their technique this week. Kowal said the Varsity 8 team of Sheila Rinozzi, Emily Vinson, Emily Katalinich, Jessica Novack, Caitlin Kuempel, Megan Erickson, Katy Kroll, Christine Allingham, and Haylie Miller got better against both Big Ten teams.

The Novice 8 team improved as well. The group had trouble maintaining its speed in last week’s Pac-10 Challenge, but it showed great speed at the beginning and toward the end, which led to a 7:29.1 to 7:41.1 victory over Minnesota.

However, the lineups for the Big Ten championships are still to be determined because of injuries, Kowal said. While she can’t avoid the circumstances, she said, she hopes to change their team’s schedule to find more time for practice.

Her rowers’ class schedules allow for the team to be on the water for only one hour on some days.

“What we really need is more water time on the Iowa River, but it’s going to be tough,” Kowal said. “With more time, we’ll be able to work on having longer strokes, which will let us tap into a lot more speed.”

Kowal said she is eager to correct this with the Hawkeyes’ inactive schedule until the Big Ten championships on June 1 in East Lansing, Mich.

“We’re probably going to see these teams again,” Kowal said. “Wisconsin is one of the three best teams in the Big Ten, and we’d love to challenge it again in the future.”

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