Wildcats Travel to Tennessee for SIRAs

April 17, 2014

Regatta CentralK-State AthleticsMANHATTAN, Kan. – K-State Women’s Rowing heads to Oak Ridge, Tenn., this weekend for the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association (SIRA) Championship Regatta on Melton Hill Lake. Running from April 18-19, the SIRAs will play host to over 20 schools. The Wildcats will bring six boats to compete: the 1st and 2nd Varsity 8s, 1st and 2nd Novice 8s, as well as the 1st and 2nd Varsity 4s.

While the field is not as deep as what the Wildcats dealt with two weeks ago in San Diego, head coach Patrick Sweeney said he still expects K-State to face some formidable competition.

“It’s not [our biggest] regatta as far as top, top schools go,” Sweeney said. “But the main one for us is there are at least two or three good schools there that are going to push us.

“The things we need to learn, if we don’t do them properly, they’ll beat us. We can’t just go out there and paddle. Those type of schools will make us focus and race right with the things we want to work on.”    

Sweeney mentioned Purdue, Nova Southeastern, and George Washington as some of the schools that will be tough to compete against. George Washington, in particular, won the Varsity 8 Grand Final at last season’s regatta, while K-State’s 1V8 placed third.

With conference championship racing less than two weeks away, Sweeney said this regatta will help in preparing the rowers for the Big 12 Championships, scheduled for May 3.

“This is good preparation for Big 12s without the pressure of having to race the best schools in the conference,” Sweeney said. “[The SIRAs], like all the regattas, are like stepping stones to get it right before the bigger meets later on. The conference meets are what we aim for, they’re the two [Big 12 and Conference USA] where we want to be at our best.”

Sweeney mentioned that even with the extra week of practice, the Wildcats were only able to get on the water twice due to weather; making it a total of four days K-State has practiced on Tuttle Creek since the spring portion of the season started.

“There are things, such as race pace, that if we were on the water, I’d be happier because we could get it right,” Sweeney said regarding the team’s base tempo – essentially the speed each crew holds during the bulk of the 2000 meter sprint. “It’s not exactly where I’d like it at, it’s not far off, but [the speed they need is] not natural to them yet.

“It’s like a runner being at their right pace, whatever distance that may be. We’re not in our right pace yet for what we’re doing. And getting that right just takes mileage.”

Despite the weather-induced hurdles, Sweeney is extremely pleased with how the team has responded to training in both the Intercollegiate Rowing Center and the occasions they have been able to get on the water.

“I’ve said this before, but I’m really pleased with where the team is and where it is going,” Sweeney said. “They’re way ahead of where anyone would expect them to be given the water time. It’s not easy, but it’s up to the girls to not use it as an excuse and say, ‘we have to work harder at it and focus more on it, not waste a minute when we are out there.’

“When they win, it means more to them. It’s not given to them; they work their tails off to get everything they’ve got. “

Racing for K-State kicks off this Friday with the Novice 8s preliminary heats back-to-back at 2:13 p.m., and 2:20 p.m., ET, respectively. Full schedule and results can be found by visiting the SIRA homepage at www.siraregatta.com, while up-to-the-minute results for K-State will be posted on Twitter via @kstate_gameday.

This weekend’s regatta will be the final competition for the Wildcats before the Big 12 Championship on May 3 in Oklahoma City. K-State will then return to Oak Ridge for the Conference USA Championship two weeks later on May 17. More information on all the upcoming regattas for K-State Women’s Rowing can be found by visiting www.k-statesports.com.