A Look Back At The Fall Season

Oct. 27, 2005

IOWA CITY, IA – The Iowa Rowing team is looking to wrap up its fall season with a strong finish Sunday at the Head of the Iowa Regatta in Iowa City.

The Hawkeyes have participated in three races so far during this fall season: the Head of the Des Moines, the Head of the Rock, and the Head of the Charles. Each event has given the team something to feel good about.

In the Head of the Des Moines, the Hawkeyes raked in three first-place finishes. Laurak Kanaris finished first in the junior women’s single. Kat Davy-Traynor and Lydia McGee finished first in the women’s open pair. And the women’s varsity 8+ squad took first place at the Head of the Des Moines for the eighth straight year.

The novice squad – which serves as a stepping stone to the varsity team – competed at the Head of the Rock. The novice unit competed well and placed three boats in the top twenty.

This past weekend, the varsity crew took one boat to Boston to compete in the Head of the Charles Regatta. Iowa held its own with a solid 17th place finish in the 8+ event against many Big Ten and East Coast schools.

The three outings have 12th year Coach Mandi Kowal feeling good about her team’s progress.

“It’s going pretty well,” says Kowal of the 2005 fall season. “We’ve got some very good energy with the group. They’re hard workers, easy to coach and a very young group. We’ve made good headway with the team morale, team development and racing ability.”

Kowal has been impressed with many members of her team. Each rower is focused on getting better from one practice to the next. However, if there is one group that sticks out for Kowal, it’s the new kids on campus.

“We have some kids who have been performing and testing really well. A big clump of the freshman class has been really strong. They’ve come in and it’s been kind of like gangbusters,” says Kowal. “They’ve done a really nice job. But the sophomores are performing well too. We’re focusing on technique now.”

This year’s crew is unusually young. Of the 66 rowers on the novice and varsity teams, 43 are freshmen and nine are sophomores. But youth isn’t a bad thing. Kowal thinks the younger Hawkeyes are benefiting the program.

“I don’t know if it is the youth or if it is just the people, but they’re very competitive. They like to race, compete, push each other and they have a good sense of humor. I don’t know if it is necessarily the youth or just the makeup of the group itself. I imagine when they are juniors and seniors, they are going to have the same level of energy with probably a higher level of intensity,” says Kowal.

Having energy is important during rowing’s fall season. The fall has traditionally been known for longer races that are two and a half to three miles long. In these races, boats leave at 10 second intervals and race against the clock. During the spring season races are just a mile and a quarter in length and teams leave at the same time racing head-to-head.

The Hawkeyes are off to a solid start this year, but are focused on improving throughout the fall and into the spring. Kowal wants to improve the entire rowing program by polishing the rowing skills of both the varsity and novice squads.

“I don’t want to just focus on just the top part of the group. I want to focus on the entire group and getting us a full contingent of racers for the Big Ten championships,” says Kowal. “We’ve set this goal and everything we do – the practices we have, the mindset we have – is all with the intent to have a full slate at the Big Ten, which we haven’t had in awhile. We just want to race well compared to last year’s Big Ten championship.”

Sunday’s Head of the Iowa Regatta is the final fall event for the Iowa crew. Over 1,000 competitors and 30 club and college teams are expected to be on hand in Iowa City to race the Iowa River. Events will be held all-day and will include events specifically for men, women, lightweights, novice, masters, and mixed crews.

Rowing fans who want to attend the Head of the Iowa are encouraged to watch from City Park any time on Sunday. All of the events will start near the park. Fans wanting to catch the Hawkeyes are advised to be at the river between 1 and 3 p.m. Current start times are only estimates and are subject to change.

By Brett Roberts, Iowa Sports Information