The Rowing team took over Overpeck Park this weekend against a crowded field. Photo from gorhody.com. 

After a delayed start to its spring season, the University of Rhode Island Rowing team competed in its second contest on Saturday, sweeping six teams at Overpeck Park in Bergen County, New Jersey.

In the morning heats, URI beat George Washington University and the University of Connecticut in the Varsity 8+, the Second Varsity 8+ and the Varsity 4+ flights. In the Second Varsity 4+ competition, URI placed runners-up behind the University of Massachusetts but finished ahead of UConn.

Rhode Island continued its success in the afternoon after qualifying for every race in the Grand Finals. The Rams topped GW and Saint Joseph’s University in the Varsity 8+ race, as well as the Colonials and the Minutewomen in the Second Varsity 8+ competition.

To confirm the sweep, Rhody finished ahead of UMass and GW in the Varsity 4+ flight and beat UMass and UConn in the Second Varsity 4+ race.

 With the Rams competing in just their second competition of the year, URI Head Coach Shelagh Donohoe said the team has been “great” at adapting to circumstances presented, including those pertaining to COVID-19.

“The rowers have been doing a great job with following the [COVID-19] protocol, and I’m just hoping we can get through the season and continue to race,” she said. “They want it, I want it, but you could do everything the right way, and you could still get this virus, so it is definitely challenging and stressful in that way.”

In March, Rhode Island was scheduled to race at Boston University, but Coach Donohoe said the competition was canceled because of high COVID-19 positivity rates. In the absence of a competition early in the season, Coach Donohoe scheduled Brown University in the beginning of April. The Rams lost all four races to the Bears.

Because of the pandemic, the fall rowing season was canceled. However, Coach Donohoe said the cancelation ended up “working out in the team’s favor” because they were able to practice in smaller boats as long as they stayed in their safety pods.

“We rode a lot of small boats, which will only make us better, and I feel like that did help us coming into the spring,” she said. “I feel like all the small boat rowing—and it was not interrupted with racing, because we could not race—was a benefit to us. I really feel like it has helped us in the spring as we start up.”

This Saturday, the Rams are scheduled to travel to Boston for a competition against Boston College. With the “ultimate goal” of winning the Atlantic 10 Championship on May 15, Coach Donohoe said everything the team does now is to “prepare to be able to peak at that time.”         “I think we just have to continue to focus on us, continue to make improvements every day and go out there and put it on the line,” she said. “I do not think we change how we prepare. We just prepare, and then we race who we race.”