By James Geerdes
In 2013, Iowa rowing named Andrew Carter its head coach after finishing its season seventh in the Big Ten (among eight teams) for two years in a row.
Fast forward to the 2017 season.
Carter and his squad competed on the national stage. In May, the squad finished 15th nationally at the NCAA Rowing Championships, and Carter believes last year’s success can only catapult his team.
“Last year changed their expectations of what they’re capable of doing and what they need to do to achieve the goals,” he said. “When I came here four years ago, what the expectations were, what the goals were, [they] were dramatically different [from] what they are now. The biggest difference this year than last year is the expectations set out for them.”
Those expectations stem from the steady rise of Iowa’s program over the last few years. The 2017 season was the Hawkeyes’ first year competing at the NCAA Rowing Championships since 2001, and they feel even stronger now.
“We have the best level of fitness that I’ve seen out of this team,” Carter said. “I think they’ve gotten that level of fitness to the point where it’s going to be hard for them not to be nationally relevant. They’ve done more than any team that has come before them at Iowa.”
The Head of the Charles Regatta, Iowa’s final competition of the fall season, attracted some of the world’s best rowing talents, and it saw a Hawkeye team unlike any before.
Iowa’s championship 4+ team finished sixth in its event, with a time of 17:46.917. Last year in the same event, the squad finished in 19.57.650. Granted, the weather for last year’s races was not ideal.
Iowa’s championship 8+ crew finished with a time of 15:35.304, notching 13th. Last year, Iowa’s 8+ crew ended with a time of 17:34.061 at the regatta.
“Coming out of this regatta, I think we’re in a really good place as a team,” Carter said in a release. “The women prepared really well this fall, and their training since has been terrific. This team has taken tremendous strides in the past four years, and we’re all motivated to keep the momentum we have.”
This fall, the team has had other successes as well. In varsity scrimmages against Indiana and Wisconsin, the team swept in dominant fashion.
“We crushed them,” said senior Kaeylnn Heiberg, who rowed on last year’s NCAA Championships team. “We didn’t just win, we crushed them. We beat them by 30 seconds. This is the fastest we have ever been.”
The team is going into the off-season with more confidence than ever, and it will develop even further, Carter said.
“We lost five seniors last year, but I think a lot of people stepped up to fill their place,” junior coxswain Logan Jones said. “Some sophomores and juniors have really stepped up and filled their places. We have a good dynamic, and I think everyone is just excited to see where the season takes us.”
Preseason scrimmages will start on Feb. 8 in Texas for the Hawkeyes, and the bulk of the season will begin with the Pac 12 Invitational on March 31.