Illinois rowing wins state championship over weekend

By Zoe Kaler

Illinois hosted the 2015 Illinois Collegiate Rowing Invitational at Clinton Lake in DeWitt, Illinois, on Saturday.

The women won the regatta and the men took third, but the team as a whole won the state championship. 

In women’s varsity eights, the Illini took first and second place. Illinois’s women’s varsity four finished second, its women’s novice eight finished second, and its women’s lightweight four finished second. The Illini women finished second and fourth in the novice fours.

The Illinois men’s first varsity eight finished second, the men’s second varsity eight finished fifth, the men’s varsity four finished second and the men’s novice eight finished third.

The race course was 2000 meters long and affected by wind throughout the race.

“The race was great. It was a bit windy during our race, but we didn’t let that stop us from giving it everything we had,” men’s team captain Mike Varga said. “We had the opportunity to compete against some very strong competitors, and we were able to hold our own.”

This was the third time Illinois has hosted the regatta.

“It’s been the warmest day of the year so far, so it was a surprise that everyone now had to pay attention to making sure they were hydrated, making sure they were resting between their races, making sure that they were drinking enough water, while trying to keep this regatta running because it really was our coaches and our team running this event,” women’s team president Meridith Kisting said.

Kisting said the team is trying to raise the level of competition in the Midwest with the regatta race. 

“Every year the teams that come out here to race against us have really stepped it up and boats all across the board have gotten faster,” she said.

“It’s hard enough hosting a race but it’s really hard when you’re not hosting it at your regular practice facility,” women’s head coach Erik Kroeker said. The team usually practices at Homer Lake in Clinton, Illinois.

Despite the difficulties, Kroeker said he feels good about the regatta.

“I’m happy about the results. As always, we’re looking to improve over the next few weeks,” Kroeker said. “As many races as we did win, we still have other races where we felt we could have done better.”

Varga also alluded to the hard work not being over. 

“We hope to continue to get faster and stronger as we begin to approach the end of our season,” Varga said.

Next weekend the team will go to the Mid-American Collegiate Championships in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“It’s really our last race before we actually go to Nationals and we’re also going to be facing a lot of the same teams that we’re going to be seeing at nationals,” Kroeker said. “The best teams in the Midwest are all going to be centered at the race, so we really have to have good performance.”

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