Oct. 2, 2013
MANHATTAN, Kan. - K-State Women's Rowing gets its first taste of competition this weekend at the OCU Head of the Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, Okla. Competing in 5K time trials, the Wildcats will send eleven boats to compete in races ranging from Varsity 8's to Novice 4's.
For head coach Patrick Sweeney, the Head of the Oklahoma is a great opportunity for the rowers to get in the competitive mindset while also being able to take a break from training for the spring season in March.
"This race presents us with a chance to see where we are at heading into the fall and winter," Sweeney said. "It breaks up the drudgery of day-to-day training for the girls. I like to refer to [the race] as a more intense training date."
While the fall races from a statistical standpoint don't hold as much as merit as the races coming in March do, Sweeney said being able to compete at this time keeps the athletes in the right mindset.
"You always like to compete, it gets the adrenaline flowing and keeps [the athletes] fired up," Sweeney said.
The Head of the Oklahoma also presents the newcomers with a chance to get experience on a collegiate level. K-State will have multiple boats competing in the same races, giving rowers the opportunity to not only compete against fellow teammates, but also against Division I schools like Texas A&M and Clemson University as well as conference opponents in Texas and Kansas.
"The race gives the youngsters good experience," Sweeney said. "They get to see the speed of the boats of these schools and see what racing is all about at this level."
Senior Aly Bronder, one of two K-State captains along with junior Meggie Murray, said being able to compete against each other is the main focus for the Wildcats.
"Our big thing going into this race is the competition between us," Bronder said. "Being able to compete against each other gives us a break from training. It's a fun training day for the team."
Murray added competing in Oklahoma City is always an exciting time for both the returners and newcomers on the rowing squad.
"This upcoming weekend is exciting because it gives us taste of what is to come in the spring," Murray said. "Our novice squad hasn't had the chance to compete against crews from other schools, so it's a great opportunity for them to get a basic understanding of how things work and what to expect."
Last season, the Wildcats used the Head of the Oklahoma to test out various lineups in their 10 boats entered for the competition. With the loss of five rowers including the coxswain from the 2011-12 season, K-State had several spots open for the Varsity 8A boat.
For this season though, the Wildcats return all eight rowers from last year's fifth-place Conference USA Championship squad including all-conference rower, Allison Dorau.
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 exciting OG&E NightSprints under the lights. K-State is not scheduled to participate in any races on Sunday's slate.
Results will be posted on the Oklahoma Regatta Festivals' Facebook page as well as Twitter. Fans can follow the handle @OklaRegatta or the hashtag #HOTO for live results.
Following the Head of the Oklahoma, the women's rowing team will take a week off before heading to Lawrence, Kan., to face Kansas on Oct. 20 for the final race of the fall portion of their season. Visit www.k-statesports.com for more information.