Sunday, May 4, 2008

Michigan Rowing takes 5th @ Big 10 Championships

On Sunday, the #11 ranked Michigan Women's Rowing team placed 5th at the 2008 Big 10 Rowing Championships in Belleville, Michigan. Michigan State sailed to an easy win, outscoring 2nd place Wisconsin by 36 points. Sailed...that was a boating joke...

Anyways, normally rowing would probably not earn a post on the WCBN Blog, but since I attended the tournament, I felt inclined to write about it. My friend Kyle Wolfe and I have been on this quest to see each and every Michigan varsity athletic team in action. We knew rowing would be a tough one to get to since A)they don't have many home meets and B)The home meets are in Belleville, about 15 miles east down I-94.

When we saw that Michigan would be hosting the 2008 Big 10 Championships, we knew that we better seize the opportunity and go watch especially since it's summer now and neither one of us has much to do during the days anyways. To pass the time and stay in shape we've been biking around Ann Arbor, going on trips that have been around 10 miles, just to explore and see what's around past the U of M campus area.

I mapquested the trip to Belleville and saw that it was about 17 miles each way. I figured neither one of us had anything else to do on Saturday, why not try to bike it? Kyle was up for the challenge so at 9:15 we left Ann Arbor on bicycle heading down Washtenaw. Here's the route we ended up taking:

Start: State Street & Packard
1) Packard to E. Stadium
2) E. Stadium to Washtenaw
3) Washtenaw to Carpenter
4) Carpenter to Textile Rd
5) Textile Rd to Rawsonville Rd

The ride there took about 1:45 and was fairly uneventful. We were disappointed to learn that the bulk of the trip did not have sidewalks for us, but since it was pretty early on a Saturday morning, traffic was fairly light.

Michigan hadn't done very well in the preliminaries but the way the rowing championships are formatted, there are are three levels that compete. Novice (which one of the championship personnel explained to us are the freshman who are recruited for Title IX proportionality purposes), Varsity II (JV), and Varsity I. Michigan only managed to get one of their varsity I boats in the grand final. The Varsity I eight boat (there are eight-person boats and four-person boats that compete) took second to OSU in the grand varsity eight final. Michigan's Varsity II four also advanced to the grand final, but took fourth place.

The rowing was actually pretty interesting to watch, mainly because we snuck into the "credentialed officials only" area so we could figure out what exactly was going on. There was a man doing play-by-play of all the races who was out in the water on a bat that kept pace with the rowers. He was pretty entertaining and even controversial when he drew some criticism for announcing that Ohio State's coxswain lost the race for her team with poor steering. The Indiana and Iowa State coaches that were standing next to us weren't too happy with him for saying that.

We stayed and watched for about four hours with our eyes to the sky hoping that the forcasted storms would hold off. Well, they did hold off for the rowing, but as most people climbed into the shelter of their cars, we set out on bike in a downpour. The route back included about a mile to get out of the park and back onto the street so sure enough, the dirt paths mixed with heavy rains resulted in a very muddy Stu and Kyle.

As soon as we got out to the road, the rain let up and other than some scattered drops the rest of the trip the weather wasn't a major obstacle. The wind did make some of the biking pretty difficult but the biggest problem we faced was construction on Carpenter Road that made for two very narrow lanes. As we were about halfway through the .5 mile stretch of construction, a True Green Lawn Care Truck decided to pass me and in the process clipped my elbow sending me into the raised curb. While I didn't actually fall, that was definitely the worst part of the ride.

In total, it ended up being about a 35 mile bike ride that took us roughly 3:30 roundtrip. Upon getting back home we decided to go watch Michigan Baseball as they wrapped up a doubleheader versus Ohio State. We got to Ray Fisher Stadium in time to watch the final few innings of Michigan's 3-2 loss to OSU.

It was a good day as we crossed another sport off the list. Last Saturday we took a trip to East Lansing to watch Michigan Men's Golf play in the Big Ten Championships at MSU. We watched golf for about an hour, went and called the Michigan vs Michigan State Softball game over at Old College Park. Then we went back to watch the last few holes of Bill Rankin's day as he was tied for the lead before we started watching but ended up finishing third.






Despite the sale, we didn't quite have enough cash on us to take home a puppy. Plus, how would we have carried it?

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