Women rowers start practice with fitness, strength, technique in mind
Coach Kris Muhl, right, gives pointers during a maching session Thursday. Play Video
Coach Kris Muhl, right, gives pointers during a maching session Thursday.
With a big season on tap culminating with its first-ever Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships, the JU women’s rowing team has begun practice.

Head coach Kris Muhl Women’s rowing team is kicking off preseason drills with a two-fold approach: working on fitness while focusing on technique.

“Some people came back fit and some people didn’t,’’ Muhl said at an early-morning practice Thursday. “So, we’re trying to homogenize everything and get everybody more on the same level while we focus on technique.’’

In addition to overall fitness, Muhl in working on getting team strength up.

“If they didn’t maintain strength over the break they’ve lost muscle mass,’’ he said. “The good thing is they can get that back quickly. You can only get so fast rowing faster; you have to be strong in order to get faster as well.’’

Muhl says his early assessment is similar to many coaches in many sports.

“We’re in a better spot than we were last year, but as with any team you can always be a bit better,’’ he said. “It’s good. The novices are still coming along really well and some of the upper classmen are taking the bull by the horns and showing some leadership, more leadership in their actions, the silent leadership.’’

One thing hampering the team is a rash of injuries over the last several weeks.

“We hoped we would work through them a little quicker,’’ Muhl said. “Everybody, the athletes, the trainers are working hard to overcome them.’’

Nonetheless, Muhl is taking no chances and will begin an on-campus recruiting program.

The team has much to look forward to, particularly the season-ending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships in New Jersey. The Dolphins are the newest MAAC member this season and beginning next year will be eligible to be an automatic qualifier to the NCAA championships should they win the MAAC.

Kuhl’s not sure if the rowers fully understand the opportunities ahead.

“Being that it’s new, some might, those who haven’t rowed before probably don’t understand what it really means,’’ he said.

“We definitely try to convey much of our excitement about what it means to be in the MAAC but it probably won’t hit some of them until we’re actually there.’’

As time goes by, the benefits should come clear.

“We’ve never really had a true conference championship,’’ Muhl said. “Just being able to have that, have set teams that we’re always going to see at the conference championship and maybe develop some of those rivalries, and maybe over time be able to race some of those teams in the regular season as well, that’s just going to help us get faster. Otherwise, we’re going to be in our own little bubble. We never know who will show at SIRAs, we never know about some of the other races, the Dad Vail as well. That’s a good season ending race but it’s not a championship … this is huge.’’

- Jim Nasella