By Mark Janssen
Kansas State rowing coach Patrick Sweeney says that one can never downplay a Wildcat meeting with the University of Kansas, but he will add, "In the fall, it's more about training and continuing to improve on our technical work."
The Wildcat rowing team will be hosting Kansas in the Sunflower Showdown starting at 9 Saturday morning at Tuttle Creek Reservoir.
Earlier this month K-State competed at the Head of the Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, where the Novice A boat placed second and the Novice B boat third.
In four Women's Collegiate 8 races, K-State's placings ranged from 10th with its "A" boat, to 19th with its "B" boat, 21st with its "D" boat, and 25th with its "C" boat. In Women's Collegiate 4 races, the KSU "A" boat was 10th, "B" boat 19th, "C" boat 23rd and "D" boat 26th.
"I thought we rowed really well and our fall training has continued to go well since that competition," said Sweeney. "I really do think we're on the right track. We were so young last year with sophomores, but they are now juniors."
Sweeney said he tries to put his top eight rowers in his first Varsity 8 boat, the next eight in the second Varsity 8, and the next four in the Varsity 4. Novice boats are reserved for individuals who have never competed in rowing before.
In rowing lingo, Sweeney said the team was doing a better job of "... letting the boat work for them. Last year we worked hard, but at times we weren't real efficient. We're rowing with a lot more efficiency than last year."
With a fall roster of 76, Sweeney says that number will drop to 60 to 65 for the spring season, which opens on March 18-19-20 with the Longhorn Invitational in Austin, Texas.
Sweeney says that between 80 and 90 percent of his team members are getting a portion of the 20 scholarships that the NCAA allows.
"When a girl joins us as a freshman we try to help them a little with a scholarship, but if they continue to improve and, for example, make our first Varsity 8 boat, girls can be on 70 to 80 percent scholarship," said Sweeney. "Rowing is one of those events without stars. One star does not make a boat, just as one individual does not lose the race. It really is a true team effort."