Eastside Story: Spartan Alumni Lead Boston University against MSU Rowing

The weekend will be a reunion of sorts for Michigan State women’s rowing coach Matt Weise, and also for a former Spartan assistant coach and former rower. This time, however, Weise and the Spartan alumni will be operating on opposing teams.

Michigan State women’s rowing will travel east to New Brunswick, N.J. Friday for a race against  Boston University and Rutgers University. Though Rutgers will join the Big Ten Conference next season, they will be competing as a member of the American Athletic Conference this season.

With Boston University at the race, Weise will be reunited with former eight-year assistant coach Stacey Rippetoe, who is entering her fifth season as head coach of the BU Terriers. Paula Thoms, a four-year varsity eight Spartan rower and 2005 Big Ten Champion who was coached by Weise, is also entering her fifth year with Terriers as an assistant coach.

Weise says it is exciting to compete against the former Spartans.

“I’m very excited,” Weise said. “I know that they’re going to want to beat me, and I’m going to want to beat them, so a little rivalry is good.”

Friday’s races will be held on the Raritan River beginning at 6 p.m. and will lead to the varsity eight race at 7 p.m. Friday will feature three races: the varsity and second varsity eight races, as well as a third race featuring the third varsity eights and the novice eights.

Since there are no races for fours, the two Spartan boats will form one eight to participate in the third race.

It has been a particularly harsh winter overall, and the ice and snow has made it a challenge for Weise to hold outdoor practices.

Weise has had his hands full lately, preparing for the major meet in New Jersey this weekend as well as making sure the river in East Lansing is safe for practicing.

“We’ve been breaking ice off of the river,” Weise said. “We have to send all of the ice down the river before we row on it, because if we hit it with one of our boats it would not be a good thing.”

This will be the first race of the season for both Rutgers and Boston University. It was supposed to be MSU’s first race as well, however, Weise added his team to the Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational. The Spartans picked up varsity eight wins over Tennessee and Kansas on the first day, but lost to No. 3 Virginia and No. 16 Louisville in the second day of competition.

Nathaniel Gaynor is the host of Coxswain for Impact Sports.

Photo: Michigan State University Women’s Rowing