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Rowing team captures spotlight in opening weekend


The IU women's rowing team practices at Lake Lemon during the 2016 season. The Hoosiers finished 13th at the NCAA Championships on Friday and Saturday. IDS file photo Buy Photos

Three days after claiming the No. 15 spot in the CRCA/US Rowing Coaches poll, the IU women’s rowing team proved it is worthy of its new national ranking.

On March 31, IU coach Steve Peterson brought his new look squad to Cherry Hill, New Jersey, for the Doc Hosea Invitational. The regatta kicked off Peterson’s 15th season as the Hoosiers' head coach.

This event was no cake walk for IU. 

11 other college crews from across the country gave the Hoosiers a run for their money. Fellow Big Ten schools Minnesota and Rutgers were in attendance, but the invite was dominated by east coast schools such as Navy, Northeastern and Pennsylvania, among others. 

The teams hit the water at 8 a.m. sharp, starting with the preliminary heats. There were two heats for each event, with the top three teams from each heat advancing to their respective grand final. The Hoosiers rowed in four of the five events.

IU’s first Varsity eight escaped close calls from Dartmouth and Cornell to win its morning heat. The Hoosiers were in another tight one with Dartmouth and Syracuse in the afternoon, but prevailed to win the 1V8 Grand Final.

“In our heat, we struggled to remain calm because it was our first 2000 meters of the season,” senior Hilary Shinnick said. “Our main focus in the final was to do what we know we could and put together a piece where we focus on the process of staying calm together.”

Next was the 2V8, a boat that raised concern for IU. The talent and speed was there during the winter, but inexperience is a question mark moving forward: All but two rowers of this bunch are freshmen or sophomores. 

In its heat, the group earned a close second place finish behind Minnesota. When it came to the 2V8 Grand Final, the Hoosiers finished fourth in a close race which saw all six boats crossing the finish line in a 10-second span.

The 1V4 boat for IU is mostly comprised of upperclassmen. In terms of experience, this group is anchored by graduate student Leslie Beatty. The Indiana native was placed in the four seat by Coach Peterson for the weekend, and she said she wasn’t surprised when her boat flourished this weekend.

“We’ve just been committing to the training and believing in each other and coming together to do the best we can,” Beatty said. “Neither of the pieces were perfect but we learned a lot from them."

In the opening heat, the Hoosiers’ 1V4 cruised to the finish, outracing second-place Dartmouth by almost 10 seconds. In the grand final, IU saw some more competitive boats, but ultimately clinched first place as it improved upon its heat time by five seconds.

The final event for the Hoosiers was the 2V4. This boat surprised many as the team’s most dominant boat of the weekend. In the morning, the group started things off with a bang, clinching first in their heat by more than 12 seconds. 

The grand final was not much different. Improving their time by five seconds and beating out Cornell by ten seconds, IU’s 2V4 boat clinched the team’s third first-place finish of the afternoon.

The day ended with an awards ceremony where a donation upwards of $6,000 was pooled for the the national rowing team in Doc Hosea’s honor. Hosea, a former rower, had traveled with the U.S. national team as a doctor before passing away in 2015.

In addition to their three first-place finishes in grand finals, the Hoosiers edged out Syracuse by six points to win the team championship for the regatta. 

With three more competitions to go until the Big Ten Championship, the team knows they must take advantage of their hot streak.

“It’s fantastic that we have this sort of momentum at the beginning of the season with these speeds,” Shinnick said. “Every school is going really fast this year. It’s so important to keep building on that and not let things get away from us.”

Next weekend, the team will head north to the Great Lakes State where they will meet with Michigan and Michigan State. Michigan is one of three Big Ten teams ranked higher than IU in the national polls. The Hoosiers aim to seize this chance to prove that their recent results were not a fluke. 

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