Men’s and women’s rowing crews show potential at Chicago boat race

By Carly Kulenkamp

The Illinois men’s and women’s rowing teams both showed promise in their performance this past weekend in Chicago.

The Illini journeyed up to the windy city to face the DePaul Blue Demons in the annual Race4Row Chicago Boat Race. This race serves as a fundraiser for Recovery on Water, “A mutually-empowering rowing team that gives survivors of breast cancer the unique opportunity to interact, become active in their recovery, and gain support from fellow survivors,” according to the foundation’s website.

As a competitor in the race, Illinois was called to raise money for the organization. The Illini raised a total of $15,500 for Recovery on Water and overall the race raised a $44,721.

Illinois sent both men’s and women’s varsity and novice teams to compete Sunday. The men’s varsity 8 lost to DePaul by 11 seconds. Despite the loss, head coach Bill Grier said he was pleased with the finish because the team was missing some of its rowers, so being able to finish so closely showed great promise for the season.

The women’s varsity 8 crew defeated DePaul, but with just two seconds separating the two teams. According to Grier, part of the reason the race was so close was that the Blue Demon’s coxswain was very familiar with the course — it is her home course — so she was able to direct faster navigations.

“(DePaul) would gain time on the corners,” Grier said. “But, the girls were able to pull it together and come out ahead.”

Along with the varsity crews, both the men’s and women’s novice crews competed against DePaul. The Illini’s novice men’s 8 team defeated the Blue Demons by a wide margin.

“I felt a lot of power from the boat,” novice men’s captain Jordan Meyer said. “The whole team was psyched up and pulled away early on.”

As for the women’s novice crew, the first team beat DePaul by a minute and a half margin. The second crew, however, was defeated.

Going forward from this race, Meyer said that he would like to see the Illini work on rowing more in sync with one another, as well as finishing stronger.

Next week, Illinois will be traveling to Indianapolis to compete in the Head of the Eagle race. This race marks the last big weekend for rowing in the Midwest as cooler temperatures begin to set in.

Competition at the race will include fellow Big Ten teams Wisconsin, Michigan and Purdue. Grier said that he is excited to compete with such a strong level of competition so that the team can see where it matches up compared to high performing teams around here.

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