Women’s rowing found the right combinations for their boats at the Occoquan Sprints. They were able to have all their boats finish competitively. (MAURICE C. JONES/BROADSIDE)

Women’s rowing found the right combinations for their boats at the Occoquan Sprints. They were able to have all their boats finish competitively. (MAURICE C. JONES/BROADSIDE)

The women’s rowing team took the water on April 7 in Occoquan, Va. for the Occoquan Sprints. The race was only the second official race of the spring season. Because it is still early in the season, the team used the race to try different combinations of rowers for their boats.

“We had a lot of lineup switches and, as a result, we gained, overall as a team, a lot of speed throughout our two Varsity Eights and both of our Varsity Fours and also the Novice Eights,” senior rower Bridget Hally said. “I think the expectation was to go in there and race our own race, and I think all boats accomplished that. So we were very happy with the results.”

The changes to the lineup came after the opening spring race of the season at the Murphy Cup in Philadelphia on March 30. Coach Geoff Dillard was not entirely satisfied with the results at that event and felt the tweaks were necessary to keep pace with other teams.

“I think coming off the first race, we did not necessarily race our own race. So, we were definitely looking to keep our heads in the boat and knowing that if we did that, the results would take care of itself,” Dillard said. “And I think we accomplished that this weekend, and we were incredibly competitive with the field. We were in a lot of tight races this weekend and that is where we wanted to be. So, I think we were very successful this past weekend and definitely met our expectations.”

The Occoquan Sprints saw Mason’s team place three boats, the Novice Eight and both Varsity Eights in their respective petite finals, with all other boats finishing competitively in the field.

“I think we took a really big step at the Occoquan Sprints. I think the girls saw the value in the race and got a taste of what it takes to be successful. And we have already seen it carry over to practices, and when they do that on a regular basis, of course they are going to get faster,” Dillard said.

Mason’s rowing team now looks to build on the results at the Occoquan Sprints as a springboard for the rest of the season. This weekend the team travels to Camden, New Jersey for the Knetch Cup.

“Last weekend’s performance is definitely preparing us for the second half of the spring season, especially this weekend being such a big regatta for us. We are rowing a variety of boats, and I feel like we will find the boat speed and see the results that we have been working toward this season,” junior coxswain Nathalie Rosado-Burgos said.

Because of Mason’s move to the Atlantic 10 for next season, all spring sports are ineligible for CAA postseason play. Unfortunately, this includes squeezing the rowing team out of the the CAA Tournament. Coach Dillard and the team are unfazed. The team is now focused on the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia as their personal postseason race.

“We are really excited at participating in the Dad Vail, and we are also really excited about the move to the A-10 next season because we should be really competitive in that conference. Because the A-10 has more teams participating in women’s rowing, we will match-up better against A-10 schools than we did CAA schools. In this weekend’s race we will be facing A-10 schools as well as CAA schools, and we just want to prove ourselves,” Dillard said.