East Lansing, Mich. —  Michigan State produced a strong day of top-to-bottom racing from all six crews at the Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational on Melton Lake in  Oak Ridge, Tenn.  It is the opening weekend of competition for all collegiate crews, and all teams are focusing on the strengths provided by their winter training.

Head coach Matt Weise was encouraged by what he saw out of the six crews. 

“We really had a good day.  In the varsity eight, we have a pretty young boat – there’s five sophomores and three juniors, and are racing maybe above their experience level right now.  They are really engaged in the process of learning how to race and taking a very mature approach to the process as well.  The second eight had a couple of good races as well, particularly their second race today.  Unfortunately, it fell apart for them at the end, but we’re seeing a really solid, mature approach to what we’re trying to implement and execute.  I would say the same about the fours in that regard, and it’s a very positive place for us to be after the first races of the season.  As for the novices, there’s a lot of boats here that we are racing against that are third or fourth varsity boats – so it’s got some athletes with a bit more experience because those programs aren’t putting together a true novice boat.  So far, it’s been a good weekend for learning, which is what this series of races is truly all about.  Our staff is excited to see how we respond tomorrow to our final set of races.”

The varsity eight won the morning race by open water (6:28.48) over Oklahoma, Kansas and Alabama, and braced for a more challenging afternoon when it lined up with No. 4 Virginia and No. 17 Notre Dame.  In that race, the Cavaliers were clocked in a time of 6:07.85, with Notre Dame a length behind (6:11.37).  MSU maintained contact with the Irish, and was about three seats behind Notre Dame at the finish – posting a time of 6:13.08.  The Spartans beat Kansas by 11 seconds in the morning race (the Jayhawks clocked 6:39.59), but the margin over KU in the afternoon race improved to more than 18 seconds.

The second varsity eight posted a third-place finish in its first race, about three seats behind second-place Kansas.  The margin for MSU in the afternoon session remained at about three seats, but both crews were open water behind Virginia and Notre Dame.

MSU’s first four avenged an early-session loss to Kansas in the afternoon.  Kansas was second behind Oklahoma in the morning, and two lengths ahead of MSU, (7:29.94-7:37.95).  In the afternoon MSU bested Kansas to finish third behind Virginia and Notre Dame, and was clocked in a time of 7:18.24 – two full seconds ahead of the Jayhawks (7:20.22).   The Spartan second four entry was behind Oklahoma and Kansas in the morning session, and Kansas pulled out a half-length win over Notre Dame in the afternoon to take third ahead of MSU.

The Spartan novices were lined up with some hybrid boats, as not all schools fielded a complete novice entry.  The Spartans were less than two seconds behind Alabama in the morning session and had open water over Kansas, and were third behind Virginia and Notre Dame in the nightcap.  The second novice eight only raced once, finishing behind two hybrid Alabama entries in the finale of the morning session.

MSU has one session of racing remaining on Sunday at 10 am.  The Spartans will line up with West Virginia, Central Florida, and Big Ten rival Minnesota.

MORNING SESSION

 Varsity Eight Michigan State 6:28.46; Oklahoma 6:35.22; Kansas 6:39.59; Alabama 6:45.34

 Second  Varsity Eight Oklahoma 6:36.02; Kansas 6:40.57; Michigan State 6:41.80; Alabama 6:50.10

 First Varsity Four  Oklahoma 7:25. 42; Kansas 7:29.94; Michigan State 7:37.95; Alabama 7:56.38

 Second Varsity Four  Oklahoma 7:26.23; Kansas 7:36.58; Michigan State 7:42.95; Alabama 8:16.66

 Novice Eight/Third Varsity Eight Alabama 6:57.23; Michigan State 6:59.00; Kansas 7:05.47; Oklahoma 7:07.30

 Second Novice Eight/Fourth Varsity Eight  Alabama “B” 6:58.66; Alabama “A” 7:01.86; Michigan State 7:05.42; Kansas 7:07.14

AFTERNOON SESSION

 Varsity Eight Virginia 6:07.85; Notre Dame 6:11.37; Michigan State 6:13.08; Kansas 6:31.32

 Second Varsity Eight Virginia 6:14.07; Notre Dame 6:20.42; Kansas 6:30.93; Michigan State 6:32.64

 First Varsity Four  Virginia 6:52.83; Notre Dame 7:08.90; Michigan State 7:18.24; Kansas 7:20.22

 Second Varsity Four  Virginia 6:54.24; Kansas 7:12.92; Notre Dame 7:14.85; Michigan State 8:07.32

 Novice Eight/Third Varsity Eight Virginia 6:21.48; Notre Dame 6:28.42; Michigan State 6:44.14; Kansas 6:54.22