Wildcats Power Way to Third at Big 12s

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. -- K-State Women's Rowing used medal performances by its 1st Varsity 8 and 2nd Varsity 8 to finish a close third at the Big 12 Women's Rowing Championship in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Putting in a spirited effort, the Wildcats notched a top-three finish at the conference championship for a second-consecutive season.

In total, the Wildcats tallied 89 points to finish less than 20 points behind the runner-up Sooners (107), while Texas took home the title.

Head coach Patrick Sweeney praised the 1V8 and 2V8 on a collective hard-fought effort that was integral to the team's overall top-three finish.

"I thought the 1V8 and 2V8 did a good job today. I was really pleased with what they were able to accomplish," Sweeney said. "It was tight racing all day and they really had to pull it out to get those medals."

Sweeney added the fan support at today's competition was also notable, "We probably had the best support there today out of all the schools. It was great for the athletes to see that. At the awards ceremony at the end of the day, you could see a lot of purple. That's the sort of thing the athletes see and really feed off of that."

After seeing four of their five boats -- 1V8, 2V8, 3rd Varsity 8 and 2nd Varsity 4 -- qualify for Grand Finals in yesterday's preliminary heats, the Wildcats opened today's action with back-to-back fifth-place finishes from their 3V8 and 2V4. Predominantly a novice crew, the K-State 3V8 placed ahead of Tennessee in their Grand Final, while the 2V4, compromised of four returners, finished in front of Alabama in their final.

Following the 1V4 topping Old Dominion in the 1V4 Petite Final, the Wildcats registered their first of two medal performances, the first coming from the 2V8. In that final, the 2V8 crew consisting of coxswain Meaghan Kuzmich and rowers Chelsea Goble, Lacey Reifschneider, Courtney Cooke, Beth DeMars, Samantha Bendrick, Ariana Thompson, Ally Franken and Kelsey Schultz took third, finishing a little over two seconds behind runner-up Tennessee (7:02.45) in a time of 7:04.93.

The final race of the competition then saw the 1V8 finish strong for the Wildcats, taking third as well in 6:54.27 behind only Oklahoma (6:47.26) and Texas (6:31.16). Nabbing a bronze medal for their effort, the crew of coxswain Kara Omo and rowers Meggie Murray, Noelle Dykmann, Kayla Brock, Ashley Houser, Mary Rose Eakes, Brittany Long, Erin Roeser and Madi Haney outlasted a tough Tennessee crew (6:57.53) to secure the top-three finish.

Sweeney said the 1V8 performed well, rebounding from a tough loss at the Sunflower Showdown, as well as weathering a difficult draw in the preliminary heats that featured both Texas and Tennessee.

"The 1V8 did a really good job of learning from those tough races. To have an official that was there at the Sunflower Showdown comment on how well that crew raced today says something. When they got to the 1500-meter mark today, 500 from the finish, they were level with Tennessee at that point and just ahead of KU. And when they did their push, they just pushed away and moved away from both Tennessee and KU. It was really impressive."

With the bronze medal showings by both the 1V8 and 2V8, the two boats placed top-three at Big 12s in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2011 and 2012 -- last season saw the 1V8 and 2V8 each record runner-up finishes.

Overall though, Sweeney said being competitive with the likes of Oklahoma and affiliate member Tennessee was definitely a positive, but he sees room for improvement.

"It's a result that is a little bittersweet," Sweeney said. "With the 1V4 missing the final on Saturday, it was a little bit disappointing. And when you look at the final standings -- that could have been the difference between third and second-place. It's really that close."

As for focuses on next season, Sweeney said, "I still feel we can get stronger at the back end. We still lack in that area. And to get the results we want, we have to perform better there. If they can push up then the team would be a lot stronger as a whole. Hopefully we learn from it. The whole program has got to learn that the athletes from top to bottom have to work hard. The younger athletes on the back end, they need to learn that to move a step up."

Closing the day's festivities were the year-end award presentations, as well as the announcement of this season's All-Big 12 team. Honorees were selected based on the overall team finishes with fourth-place earning two spots on the annual squad. For K-State, both of those nominees came from the 1V8, as Brittany Long and Kayla Brock each earned the honor for the first time in their careers.  

For further information on today's action, including a full list of results, visit www.k-statesports.com.

Big 12 Women's Rowing Championship
Melton Hill Lake
Oak Ridge, Tennessee

K-State Results

Team Scores
1: Texas, 137 | 2: Oklahoma, 107 | 3: K-State, 89 | 4: Kansas, 80 | West Virginia, 52

1st Varsity 8
Prelims (Heat 1)
1: Texas, 6:17.89 | 2: Tennessee, 6:38.89 | 3: K-State, 6:44.19 | 4: Old Dominion, 7:01.27

Grand Final
1: Texas, 6:31.16 | 2: Oklahoma, 6:47.26 | 3: K-State, 6:54.27 | 4: Tennessee, 6:57.53
5: Kansas, 7:00.24 | 6: Alabama, 7:13.91

2nd Varsity 8
Prelims (Heat 2)
1: Oklahoma, 6:47.45 | 2: K-State, 6:47.99 | 3: Alabama, 6:49.48 | 4: Kansas, 6:53.59

Grand Final
1: Texas, 6:52.18 | 2: Tennessee, 7:02.45 | 3: K-State, 7:04.93 | 4: Alabama, 7:06.80
5: Oklahoma, 7:09.63 | 6: West Virginia, 7:17.16

1st Varsity 4
Prelims (Heat 1)
1: Texas, 7:14.15 | 2: Kanas, 7:33.54 |3: West Virginia, 7:37.00 | 4: K-State, 7:40.83

Petite Final
1: K-State, 7:58.35 | 2: Old Dominion, 8:09.52

2nd Varsity 4
Prelims (Heat 1)
1: Texas, 7:23.77 | 2: Alabama, 7:39.35 | 3: K-State, 7:44.42 | 4: West Virginia, 7:50.46

Grand Final
1: Texas, 7:42.14 | 2: Kansas, 7:51.18 |3: Tennessee, 7:53.85 | 4: Oklahoma, 8:01.17
5: K-State, 8:06.04 | 6: Alabama, 8:09.13

3rd Varsity 8
Prelims (Heat 1)
1: Texas, 6:43.96 | 2: Alabama, 7:07.17 | 3: K-State, 7:11.41 | 4: Old Dominion, 7:17.97

Grand Final
1: Texas, 7:00.18 | 2: Oklahoma, 7:15.87 | 3: Kansas, 7:21.90 | 4: Alabama, 7:29.10
5: K-State, 7:33.08 | 6: Tennessee, 7:47.04

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

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

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

C: Rachael Plotas
4: Jennifer Smisek
3: Emily Stec
2: Lindsey Schmeidler
1: Rebekah Raetzel

C: Ashleigh Ollendieck
8: Marissa Butrum
7: Mindy Scharrer
6: Alex Deegan
5: Regan Simpson
4: Jordan Seymore
3: Kelsey Dighans
2: Holly Nelson
1: Kelsey Eagleman