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Rowing closes season on home river

BY CONRAD SWANSON | OCTOBER 31, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa rowing team fell short of the gold when it competed in the Head of the Iowa on Sunday morning.

The rowers overcame some early morning showers at the Iowa regatta; Creighton, Colorado, Drake, Minnesota, and Wisconsin all competed in the race.

This was Iowa's last competition of the year, and the coaches said they anticipated a strong home advantage brought on in part by a large Hawkeye support base. That fanbase, which consisted of Iowa fans, family of the rowers, and teammates, stood and yelled encouragement as Iowa's boats passed them at Lower City Park.

"When you pass City Park, you can't even hear your coxswain," first-year assistant coach Courtney Valerious said. "It's so loud with everybody yelling."

Before the Varsity 8 race, Valerious said she thought the home-water advantage would have a large effect on how her athletes would perform, and she predicted a significant boost in energy compared with competing in races hosted by other schools.

"We encourage crews to practice the way they want to perform," Valerious said. "It's a great place to do that."

Assistant coach Carrie Callen agreed with Valerious that there can be an element of home-water advantage but noted there are still logistical problems with hosting such a large event.

"We've got a lot of girls racing today, some of them in multiple events," Callen said. "It's a lot of work to get them fueled up and ready to go for everything."

But despite the potential home-surf advantage, the Hawkeyes didn't row quite as fast as they had hoped. Iowa fell short of first in the Varsity 8 race, placing one boat in third, another in 10th, and the last boat in 12th with times of 14:23.173, 14:51.608, and 15:30.173.

"It wasn't lack of effort, just a timing issue," head coach Mandi Kowal said in a release. "We've been battling injuries, so we haven't [had] our lineups together very much. In rowing, you really have to sync up together to be dialed in."

The Novice 4 followed, and the Iowa women placed fifth, behind four boats from Minnesota and Wisconsin. Iowa's time was 18:12.103.

Three Black and Gold women's Varsity 4 boats finished fifth, ninth, and 14th with times of 16:02.366, 16:21.712, and 17:07.359.

Iowa's two Novice 8 boats placed third with a time of 15:00.672 and fifth at 16:02.520.

The women's open pair closed out the event, and Iowa had two boats competing in the race. They placed sixth and eighth with times of 16:37.570 and 16:44.538.

Although the Hawkeyes failed to place higher than third in any event, the coaches and athletes said they'll take the results in stride and use them to prepare for the winter season.

"This isn't where I want to be — and I'm sure the team feels the same way — but it's a steppingstone for the winter season," Kowal said. "We have a relatively new crew in terms of our varsity, so we have a lot of [repetitions] to get in during the winter. We have enough information to take into the winter, and we'll focus on specific things in order to improve."


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