Recapping Indiana rowing’s 2022 season

After finishing fifth in the Big Ten and missing the NCAA Championships for the first time in seven years during the 2021 season, Indiana rowing entered March 2022 looking to improve. Although the Hoosiers failed to reach the NCAA Championships, they recorded a better finish in the Big Ten and stayed competitive throughout the season.

The Hoosiers’ regular season began at the Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational, hosted by the University of Louisville at Melton Lake in Tennessee. At the 11-team season-opening regatta, the Hoosiers experimented with different lineups and strategies to maximize their six boats’ potential. Despite changing lineups throughout the three-session meet, Indiana recorded wins in the first Varsity Eight and Secord Varsity Eight races of the second session.

For its second competition of the season, Indiana planned to travel to Ann Arbor to compete against defending Big Ten conference champion Michigan. The regatta, originally scheduled to take place on the Saturday of the weekend, was canceled due to inclement weather in the forecast. Instead, the Hoosiers and Wolverines competed in an unofficial scrimmage on Friday.

The next week, Indiana traveled to Columbus, Ohio, for the OSU Regatta, where it won six of its 12 races across two cold and rainy sessions. Indiana’s wins came in the First Varsity Eight, Second Varsity Eight and First Varsity Four races in each session, beating the University of Oklahoma and Michigan State in the morning and the Spartans again in the afternoon.

The most impressive result from the Hoosiers’ performance in the OSU Regatta came in the morning’s Second Varsity Eight race, where Indiana won by a margin of nearly 17 seconds. Although it didn’t record the team’s largest margin of victory from the weekend, Indiana’s First Varsity Eight earned Big Ten Boat of the Week honors after jumping out to early leads and cruising to wins in both of its races.

Next, the Hoosiers went to Sarasota, Florida, for the Big Ten Invitational and won four races during the weekend. The meet featured all eight Big Ten teams and eight other teams from around the country racing in three sessions over two days. In the first session, the Hoosiers saw success early with two wins and all four varsity boats finishing first or second in their races, but they were unable to keep up the momentum and all four finished third or fourth in the afternoon session.

Indiana bounced back in the meet’s final session, however, as the Hoosiers’ four varsity boats totaled one win, two second-place finishes and one third-place finish. All four varsity boats posted their fastest times of the weekend in their final races.

The final regatta of the regular season, the 13th Dale England Cup, was also Indiana’s only competition at its home course on Lake Lemon this season. The meet featured Indiana racing in one session against the University of Notre Dame, Clemson University and Michigan State. The Hoosiers won all three of the scored races and two of the non-scored races to finish with a maximum possible score of 72 points and a fifth-straight Dale England Cup victory.

Since the cup was the only home meet of the season, many fans showed up for their only chance to support the team in person. Those fans in attendance got to cheer along during the most dominant performance of the day, when Indiana’s First Varsity Eight boat won its race by more than 11 seconds and set a new course record with a time of 6:27.6 in the process.

At the Big Ten Championships in Indianapolis, the Hoosiers finished fourth overall and were unable to record a win as Ohio State and Michigan, both of whom entered the weekend ranked top-ten nationally, dominated all six races in the single-session regatta.

The best performance of the conference championships for Indiana came in the First Varsity Eight race, where the Hoosiers jumped out to an early lead through the first 500 meters. At the halfway point of the race, Indiana stood in third place with Rutgers quickly closing in, but the Hoosiers were able to hold off the Scarlet Knights to take the bronze medal by less than three-tenths of a second.

Although Indiana was not selected to compete in the NCAA Championships, multiple members of the team received individual honors from the Big Ten Conference. Senior Laura Fenison earned the Rowing Athlete of the Year award, as chosen by the conference’s head coaches, and made First Team All-Conference. Junior Piper Maaka and senior Ella Cunningham were named to the Second Team All-Conference.

Next season, the Big Ten will again be a competitive conference as three teams — Ohio State, Michigan and Rutgers — qualified for the NCAA Championships, with Ohio State finishing the highest of the three in eight place. In the season-ending coaches’ poll, Ohio State ranked No. 6, Michigan No. 10, Rutgers No. 13 and Indiana No. 18. The Hoosiers’ 2023 season will begin next March.

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