Rowing team places in regionals despite changes in staff

ROW, ROW, ROW YOUR boat: Molly Thornton and Stephanie Parrish practice at the Ronald W. Shane Watersports Center. Courtesy Hurricane Sports

Women’s rowing is not only a group of dedicated and tireless student-athletes at the U. It’s also one of the youngest teams on the athletic roster.

Interim head coach Boban Rankovic, in his first year as a Hurricane, took the reins after Robbie Tenenbaum stepped down from the position. Rankovic once was a member of the Serbian National Rowing team and was named Serbian Rower of the Year.

“You can see that after only a month of training and being a head coach, it’s very challenging and time-consuming, but very rewarding in the end,” he said.

Under Rankovic, the Canes finished third at the ACC championships in Oak Ridge, Tenn., as senior Laura Cordner and sophomore Emily Wingrove were selected to the All-ACC team. UM concluded its season at the South/Central Regional Championships, finishing seventh.

“The team simply performed brilliantly,” said Nic Saner, a senior from Cape Town, South Africa. “This year we’ve built a really strong foundation for next year – you only get better the more time you spend rowing.”

Saner, an economics and finance major, helped her team to improved times, including a 7:24.83 against Eastern Michigan, which was good enough for first place.

As a team, the rowers attempted to bond in creative ways. All 39 girls, and even Rankovic, dressed up in themed attire for “Everything 80s,” Valentine’s Day and April Fools’ Day.

“I see things going really well. I think we have a really good group of girls and everyone’s really excited for a positive change next year,” said Rachael Sporko, who just finished her final season with the team.

Sporko was recently named to the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association All-South Region Second Team. The award recognizes the best rowers across the country in the five separate regions, placing award winners in two different teams per region. She was also a part of the crew with Saner that rowed to a first-place finish against Eastern Michigan in April.

“We definitely expect to do even better next year,” Rankovic said. “In a way these past two months the team has realized their true potential.”