Iowa rowing’s first varsity eight looks to fill seats

Iowa rowing is excited to compete in the biggest rowing event in the nation, but it still needs to fill three seats in its best boat.


Lily Smith

Iowa's rowing team practices on the Iowa River on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017.

James Geerdes, Sports Reporter

Following the most successful season in Hawkeye rowing history, head coach Andrew Carter and his team took a vacation.

But this wasn’t a normal vacation. Carter took his top crews to Europe to compete in international regattas with hopes of putting Iowa rowing in the international conversation. In short, the trip was nothing but a success.

“It was fantastic,” Carter said. “The crews did really, really well. They really represented this university and the rowing program. They did a ton to establish the Hawkeye brand in rowing, internationally. The results were unbelievable. We were racing against the Dutch national team, British national team, Australian national team, and the U.S. national team.”

Now, that vacation is over. After a short break, Iowa rowers picked up where they left off in May, with hopes of returning to the national stage and topping its 11th-place national championship finish last season.

That work started with a scrimmage on Sept. 28 against Big Ten powers Indiana and Wisconsin. The Hoosiers finished No. 13 and the Badgers No. 16 last season. The Hawkeyes saw their successes continue into the fall scrimmage.

“We won the two 4Ks,” First Varsity 8 rower Hunter Koenigsfeld said. “More importantly, the difference between the first and second one, we realized we were really tense our second one, and we corrected it really nicely in our second race. We’re all good at adapting and making it work.”

But the scrimmage was not perfect for the crews.

“The next day, in the 6K, we lost our first two, then we kind of upped the rate a little bit,” Koenigsfeld. “We were all like ‘OK, we’re done losing. Let’s start winning.’ ” “Then we just won the rest of them.”

Iowa’s First Varsity 8 crew blazed through some of the top squads in the nation last season. Carter’s top crew hopes to build on that success this spring, but losing some of its top rowers to graduation creates another challenge.

“It was a dense three people that we lost — they had some of the fastest times on the erg,” Koenigsfeld said. “We have some erg spots to fill because they left big shoes to fill. But with the talent that we have coming in and the people who are stepping up, I think we’ll keep improving.”

Iowa will have the opportunity to fully display its talents at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston on Oct. 20-21. The regatta is the premier rowing event in the United States and brings in not only the top teams nationally but from around the world.

“It’s a really, really tough lineup,” Carter said. “There are a lot of national teams in it this year. So our overall placing is going to be a real challenge to maintain that spot. If we can maintain that, it will be a really good sign we’re on the right track. If we can maintain that, everyone will go into the winter with a lot of confidence.”

Iowa’s First Varsity 8 will be expected to pave the way for the Hawkeye crews, but those three seats are crucial to replicate last year’s success.

“We have a few different options — we’re about four or five different options for people who can fill those seats,” Carter said. “We’ll do some selection trials to figure out who’s going to the Head of the Charles because we don’t have all the answers yet. Some of the younger rowers are really stepping up to those positions right now.” 

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