The Minnesota rowing team won’t even be in Boston until Thursday night, but the Gophers already feel somewhat disrespected by their opponents in this weekend’s Charles River Challenge.
Minnesota will square off against Harvard, Syracuse and Dartmouth on Saturday while Northeastern, Boston University and Louisville compete against each other in another heat. When Ohio State makes it to Bean Town on Sunday, the top team from each Saturday group will face the Buckeyes, leaving the worst teams to row against the Gophers.
“We’re already seeded as a lower seed,” senior captain Teresa Logemann said. “That kind of fuels our fire.”
The Gophers enter this weekend’s meet after winning just one of 12 races against Michigan and Michigan State last week in the Big Ten Double Duals. For the first time in months, though, they’ve had a chance to practice on open water in Minnesota after starting to work out on Lake Phalen in St. Paul this week. Some boats improved by as much as 2 seconds between Monday and Tuesday, head coach Wendy Davis said.
“I’ve been much calmer this week,” she said.
Although the team is fortunate to be on the water — something Davis said last week might not be possible until April 23 — Lake Phalen is not ideal for practice because the coaches cannot go out with the team. Instead of tracking the women with a motor boat, Davis bikes around the lake to watch and must yell her critiques to the team. This puts more pressure on the coxswains to steer the boat the proper direction, which Logemann said hasn’t been an issue so far.
The Gophers also made some lineup changes heading into the weekend. In the first varsity eight boat, Logemann will move from the bow seat into the seventh seat. Senior Molly Kalmoe will move up to the bow.
“It’s a different feeling,” Logemann said. The bow is two inches higher than her new seat, and she said she just has to remind herself to row the same way. “We’ll see how it goes this weekend, but it’s been good so far in practice.”
The Gophers would like to try other lineup changes, Davis said, but the lack of water time makes it difficult to experiment.
The Charles River Challenge should still be a good test to see how much Minnesota has improved in the past week. Harvard is ranked No. 18 in the nation in the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association poll. Ohio State, meanwhile, enters the weekend ranked No. 9, and the Gophers, Louisville and Dartmouth — which posted fast times against Minnesota in the Princeton Chase in October — are all receiving votes in the national poll.
“It is going to be a good competition for us,” Davis said. “It’s a good mix of really fast crews, so we can see where we rank.”
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