1V8 Leads Impressive Showing at Crew Classic

SAN DIEGO - The Wildcats' 1st Varsity 8 highlighted a stellar effort by K-State Women's Rowing at the San Diego Crew Classic, as the crew notched a program-best second-place finish in the Collegiate Varsity Grand Final. Held from March 28-29 on Mission Bay in San Diego, K-State had all three of its crews - 1V8, 2nd Varsity 8 and 1st Varsity 4 - secure Grand Final qualifications for the first time in program history.

Head coach Patrick Sweeney said the three crews accomplished for the most part what they had set out to do this weekend.

"I'm really pleased that the three boats were able to make the finals, which was sort of what the aim was - come out here and try get into the final and they all three did that," Sweeney said. "So you always look at it and say, `I wish we had done better,' but I was happy to see them all qualify. I think they're learning every time they get into the water."

Consisting of coxswain Kara Omo and rowers Meggie Murray, Madi Haney, Kayla Brock, Brittany Long, Mary Rose Eakes, Ariana Thompson, Erin Roeser and Noelle Dykmann, K-State's 1V8 shined in both qualifying and Grand Final action. First, competing in Heat B this past Saturday, the Wildcats' top boat secured a Grand Final qualifying spot by outlasting third-place Loyola Marymount by a little over a second, 7:00.22-to-7:01.77. The qualifying-effort marked the second-straight season the 1V8 had advanced to the Grand Final, their best stretch on Mission Bay since earning Grand Final spots in five-straight regattas from 2004-09.

The 1V8 would carry that momentum into the final day of competition, shaving over four seconds off their qualifying time to secure second-place in Sunday's Grand Final. Finishing behind only Duke (6:51.46), the Wildcats (6:56.17) emerged ahead of both Sacramento State (6:56.23), who won K-State's qualifying-heat, and Big 12-foe Tennessee (6:56.38) in a tightly-contested race. Along with marking a four-spot improvement from last season's Crew Classic, the second-place finish tied a program best for K-State on Mission Bay, as it was the first time since 2005-06 that a Wildcat 1V8 had finished second.

Sweeney said the Wildcats' top boat made a couple adjustments throughout the weekend that paid dividends in today's final.

"We made an adjustment from racing in Tulsa the week before and then racing the heat [Saturday]," Sweeney said. "We learned a few things and they adjusted to it. They did a really good job making that adjustment and having a better race pace today. And coming out of this weekend, we feel we can make even more adjustments to get more speed out of them, so they're in a good place. I think if they can continue to improve and keep learning, and we can get in the water, then they can go faster."

Not to be outdone, both the 2V8 and 1V4 had excellent showing themselves, qualifying for their respective Grand Finals. For the 2V8, the crew of coxswain Meaghan Kuzmich and rowers Chelsea Goble, Beth DeMars, Courtney Cooke, Ashley Houser, Samantha Bendrick, Kelsey Schultz, Ally Franken, Lacey Reifschneider nabbed a qualifying bid by taking second in their heat in 7:01.86 - they would go onto finish fifth in the Grand Final. The 1V4, meanwhile, also earned Grand Final qualification with a second-place finish in their heat in 7:59.86. The crew of coxswain Hannah Gwartney and rowers Natasha VanGundy, Jessica Kuhlman, Hannah Frith and Hunter Anne Postier followed up that effort with a sixth-place finish in Sunday's Grand Final.

The Grand Final showings by K-State's latter two boats marked a considerable improvement from year's past, as both crews secured spots in the Grand Final at the same regatta for the first time in program history.

"With the 2V, they didn't have as good of a race as [Saturday]," Sweeney said. "It wasn't a bad race, but what was nice though was they held in there and came through and were able to place fifth. It wasn't as sharp as before, but, again, they have stuff they know they can work on and keep improving so it was an overall good performance.

"For the 4, they showed some lack of experience, which is fine. They have to learn how to get off the line quicker and how to do a sprint. So it's all stuff that will come with being on the water and consistently practicing and that's really where we're at with all the boats. The strength, the fitness-level of the athletes is in a good place. We just need to improve on racing technique.

Added Sweeney, "They've all done a really good job with where they're at in the season. Now we have to continue to learn and I think, with water time, all three boats are going to speed up. We're in a good place, and now we have to keep continuing in that direction."

With the back-to-back stretch of competition wrapped up, the Wildcats now get three weeks to prep for the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association (SIRA) Championship Regatta on Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge, Tennessee - also the site of this season's Big 12 Championships. Held from April 18-19, the Wildcats will look to repeat last season's dominant showing that saw six K-State boats combine to go 13-1 and earn five gold medals. More information on the upcoming slate of action for K-State can be found by visiting www.k-statesports.com.

San Diego Crew Classic
Mission Bay
San Diego

K-State Results

1V8 Cal Cup
Qualifiers (Heat B)
1: Sacramento State, 6:57.86 | 2: K-State, 7:00.22 | 3: Loyola Marymount, 7:01.77
4: SMU, 7:05.35 | 5: St. Joseph's, 7:11.36

Grand Final
1: Duke, 6:51.46 | 2: K-State, 6:56.17 | 3: Sacramento State, 6:56.23 | 4: Tennessee, 6:56.38
5: Saint Mary's, 7:00.14 | 6: Miami, 7:01.01

Qualifiers (Heat A)
1: USC, 6:51.32 | 2: K-State, 7:01.86 | 3: Sacramento State, 7:03.92 | 4: Saint Mary's, 7:17.67 | 5: SDSU, 7:26.20

Grand Final
1: Texas-Austin, 6:45.19 | 2: UCLA, 6:47.96 | 3: USC, 6:48.38 |4: San Diego, 7:00.35
5: K-State, 7:04.91 | 6: Duke, 7:05.13

Qualifiers (Heat A)
1: USC, 7:43.95 | 2: K-State, 7:59.68 | 3: Tennessee, 8:09.92 | 4: Saint Mary's, 8:44.15 | 5: SMU, 9:07.50

Grand Final
1: UCLA, 7:45.82 | 2: USC, 7:48.98 | 3: Texas-Austin, 7:52.57 | 4: Sacramento State, 7:59.92
5: San Diego, 8:04.23 | 6: K-State, 8:18.40

K-State Boatings
C: Kara Omo
8: Meggie Murray
7: Madi Haney
6: Kayla Brock
5: Brittany Long
4: Mary Rose Eakes
3: Ariana Thompson
2: Erin Roeser
1: Noelle Dykmann

C: Meaghan Kuzmich
8: Chelsea Goble
7: Beth DeMars
6: Courtney Cooke
5: Ashley Houser
4: Samantha Bendrick
3: Kelsey Schultz
2: Ally Franken
1: Lacey Reifschneider

C: Hannah Gwartney
4: Natasha VanGundy
3: Jessica Kuhlman
2: Hannah Frith
1: Hunter Anne Postier