Wildcats Kick Off Fall Competition in Oklahoma City

MANHATTAN, Kan. – K-State Women’s Rowing opens the fall portion of its schedule this Saturday at the 10th annual Head of the Oklahoma. Hosted by Oklahoma City University, the Wildcats will compete in 5K time trials on the Oklahoma River.

Coming off their best season in program history, the Wildcats enter the 2014-15 campaign minus several major contributors including All-Big 12 rowers Lisa Angell, Allison Dorau and coxswain Hillary Schartz.

Head coach Patrick Sweeney said this weekend’s races will give him an early look at who out of the novices might be ready to compete for a spot on the varsity boats this year. 

“It’s going to be interesting, because we lost a couple key members from the first and second boat last year, to see who in the fall steps up,” Sweeney said. “And which ones can and which ones want to as we get closer to the start of the season in the spring. It comes down to who took their training seriously over the summer and have come back ready to contribute.”

Sweeney added even with the loss of contributors like Dorau, who was a fixture on the Big 12 runner-up 1st Varsity 8, the Wildcats are returning a solid core of rowers.  

“Looking at the top-20 [rowers] on our roster are pretty solid,” Sweeney said. “I’m happy with where they are at this point in time; they are moving in the right direction. But we still need to see where the youngsters fit in and whether or not they’re stepping up or not.”

For now though, with competitive meets still several months away, the focus this weekend will be on refining technique on the water and utilizing the training being put forth both on Tuttle Creek and in the IRC tanks. 

“This race is more about seeing how they let the boat run, the technique side of the sport where you’re making sure they’re not just thrashing out there on the water,” Sweeney said. “Because this is a longer race, you’re focusing more on the technical side and seeing who handles it in racing. And that is a change from last year, with our top-20 especially, where even with losing those four, they have seemed to have gelled quite nicely. Being in [the IRC], maintaining it, they don’t look bad.

“So I’m quite happy with where they look like they’re at; it’ll be interesting to see how they’re doing further down the road. We’ve still got training throughout the fall and then January, February, March is where you do the big push to see if we got something or not.”

The OCU Head of the Oklahoma is part of the Oklahoma Regatta Festival, a four-day celebration of rowing, kayaking and dragon boating on the Oklahoma River. More than 40 collegiate and club rowing teams are anticipated to compete. Some of the head races on Saturday will serve as qualifiers for the OG&E NightSprints under the lights. K-State is not scheduled to participate in any races on Sunday's slate.

The Wildcats will send out 10 lineups to compete in the collegiate time trials with the Varsity 8s kicking off competition at 12:30 p.m. CT on Saturday. They will be followed in the early evening by the Varsity 4s at 4:20 p.m. and Novice 8s at 4:45 p.m. Live streaming and up-to-the-minute results can be found by visiting the regatta homepage at www.boathousedistrict.org and for K-State updates, follow @kstate_gameday under #KStateROW.