Iowa rowers improve in San Diego

BY RYAN MURPHY | APRIL 04, 2011 7:20 AM

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Iowa head coach Mandi Kowal said the San Diego Crew Classic was going to be a chance for the Hawkeye rowing team to face great competition in an intense regatta, as well as improve their performances in the team’s first races.

In one of the nation’s most challenging regattas, the squad sent one boat to the finals at the San Diego Crew Classic on April 2-3, and all three of the Hawkeyes’ boats recorded a top-three finishes in one of their two races. Kowal said she was pleased with the strides the team made from race to race.

“We made some great improvements from [April 2] to [Sunday],” Kowal said. “We were really aggressive and raced really good races. I’m really proud of how we raced.”

Kowal said another school’s coach approached her and complimented the race the varsity 8 team rowed on Sunday.

Senior Jessica Novack also pointed out the improvement for the squad.

“I think it went well,” the senior said. “We made a lot of improvements, and we are putting up respectable times.”

On April 2, the Hawkeye varsity 4 boat, which competed in the Karen Plumleigh Cortney Cup, took third in its heat with a time of 7:38.73. The third-place finish, behind No. 9 Southern California and Oregon State, qualified Iowa for Sunday’s final. The Hawkeyes, facing three ranked teams in the grand finals, took sixth place with a time of 7:59.06. USC won the race.

Neither Iowa’s varsity 8 boat or pairs boat qualified for the finals. The varsity 8 boat took sixth in a challenging heat that featured five of the nation’s top 15 rowing teams in the Jessop-Whittier Cup.

The pairs boat placed third in its heat, but it needed a second-place finish to advance to the finals. The Hawkeyes finished behind No. 4 Stanford and No. 12 Washington State, coming within a little more than four seconds of qualifying for the pairs finals.

Both non-qualifying boats, though, were able to compete in petite races on Sunday. The 8 boat took third place, completing the course in 6:46.77 and finishing behind Oklahoma and No. 14 UCLA. The 8 boat also bested San Diego, which had finished fewer than two seconds ahead of the Hawkeyes in the qualifying heats.

The pairs boat took second place in its Sunday race with a time of 6:58.13, losing out by 3.53 seconds to Oregon State.

The Hawkeyes will return to action on Saturday, when the squad will travel to Columbus, Ohio, to compete in the Big Ten Duals. The Hawkeyes will face Indiana and host Ohio State before finishing the regular season on April 30 in Ithaca, N.Y.

Kowal pointed to the varsity 8 boat making up ground on Oklahoma, a team the Hawkeyes faced in both Austin and San Diego. The Hawkeyes finished 17.2 seconds behind the Sooners in Austin, but trailed just a mere 1.17 seconds in San Diego.

Said Kowal: “It’s nice to see that we’re in the mix in these races, but there is a lot of room for improvement.”

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