East Lansing, Mich. -- - Michigan State started its weekend in Boston with victories in four of six races on the Charles River in Cambridge, Mass.
Lined up with two Boston-area crews -- Northeastern and Boston University -- and UMass, the Spartans saw some results from a lineup shakeup, earning wins in all three fours as well as in its varsity eight. The teams faced windy, choppy conditions on the Charles, which provided the crews plenty of distraction and some adversity.
"This course is so different from what our team is used to racing on -- and throw in the weather, and I thought it was a factor in how we attacked a lot of today," admitted head coach Matt Weise. "We won a couple of races in ugly fashion -- but I reminded our team that it's impossible to win ugly if you are not good enough to win in the first place. I thought that we absolutely faced some adversity and distraction today, but the good thing is that its not a wasted experience, because not only did we show some tenacity in sticking with it today, but we get to race this same course tomorrow, and we will have the experience today in our back pockets to better handle what's on our plate"
In the marquee race, the Spartans held off Northeastern at the finish, edging ahead by a bowball at the final horn. MSU crossed in a time of 6:25.618, just over three-tenths of a second ahead of the Huskies (6:25.948). The Spartans were down by nearly a length at the 1,000 meter mark, but gained composure and turned on the speed over the second half of the race. MSU out-sprinted Northeastern in the final 400 meters to earn the victory. UMass was more than 15 seconds behind to take third (6:41.016), with BU in fourth (6:48.938).
MSU's second varsity eight -- a new-look entry consisting mostly of MSU's novice eight over the first part of the season -- was about a second off the pace of Northeastern, and was two seats behind at the finish (6:42.684 -- 6:43.731). The Spartans held about a two-seat lead entering the final 500, but were out-sprinted to the line by the Huskies. UMass was third (6:59.626), with BU pursuing in the final 500 but unable to catch the Minutewomen and falling by about a half a second (7:00.093).
The Spartans were able to field multiple fours for the first time this season, and came away with three victories. In the first four, MSU had open water over Northeastern (7:28.400- 7:35.290), with UMass and BU battling it out for third. In the second four, the margin was much closer, with the Spartans edging the Huskies and posting a time of 7:32.300, with NU in 8:33.270. The third four lined up with Northeastern and two boats from Harvard/Radcliffe and won handily, posting a time of 7:40.709; Radcliffe's "C" entry was 12 seconds back (7:52.055).
The novice eight for MSU, elevated from being the second novice entry with the promotion of the top novice boat, posted a time of 7:28.862, bested by Northeastern (7:13.269) but holding an open-water lead at the finish over UMass (7:52.381). The Spartans and Huskies were in a dogfight as they made their way down the course, but the Spartans caught a crab, deflating any chances of a victory.
"There's lots of good takeaways from today for sure, and as I said, being able to come back out on this course tomorrow will allow us to handle the conditions in a much better way, allowing us to focus solely on the race plan. I thought the wins, especially in the fours, will help them build confidence," added Weise. "The novice eight was doing a great job before catching the crab, and that's also part of the learning and building process. In the varsity eight, they had a goal for today that they didn't meet, but raced much better in the second half than they did in the first. We're looking forward to getting back out here tomorrow and taking on a talented Harvard/Radcliffe team that we're very close to in the rankings.
MSU will be back in action on Sunday morning, taking on Harvard/Radcliffe and Boston College.
MSU at Northeastern with Boston University and UMass
Varsity Eight: 1. Michigan State 6:25.618; 2. Northeastern 6:25.948; 3. UMass 6:41.016; 4. Boston University 6:48.938
Second Varsity Eight: 1. Northeastern 6:42.684; 2. Michigan State 6:43.731; 3. UMass 6:59.626; 4. Boston University 7:00.093
Varsity Four: 1 Michigan State 7:28.400; 2. Northeastern 7:35.290; 3. UMass 7:53.610; 4. Boston University 7:55.390
Second Varsity Four: 1. Michigan State 7:32.300; 2. Northeastern 7:33.270; 3. Boston University 8:02.490; 4. UMass 8:10.080
Third Varsity Four: 1. Michigan State 7:40.709; 2. Radcliffe C 7:52.055; 3. Northeastern 8:10.307; 4. Radcliffe D 8:24.919
Novice Eight: 1. Northeastern 7:13.269; 2. Michigan State 7:28.862; 3. UMass 7:52.381