PATRICK SWEENEY | Head Coach
Entering his 12th season at K-State, Patrick Sweeney brings more than 30 years of international and collegiate coaching experience to the Wildcat program, including tenures with the British and Belgian Olympic teams. Having been a successful competitor as well as coach at the Olympic level in various different positions, Sweeney brings plenty of quality experience to the job. He works with the upper-level athletes on the team and works on analysis of both K-State and the competition to help prepare the Wildcats for regattas.
||Patrick Sweeney Coaching Timeline
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As an international coach, Sweeney took crews to 11 World Championships and four Olympic Games. He has collected two gold, two silver and one bronze medal at the World Championships and one gold and one bronze at the Olympics. In addition, he won four national championships while coaching at the University of California.
Once on staff with the Wildcats, Sweeney made immediate changes, making his first mark with a 1V8+ victory at SIRAs in 2004. The team continued its development in 2005-06, with the 1V8+ taking second at the San Diego Crew Classic. The 2006-07 season was highlighted by the outstanding performances of the 1N8+ that won SIRAs and the NCAA Central Regional title. Sweeney's more recent novice crews continue to be dominant, especially in their early season showings as the 2008-09 1N8+ tallied a commanding win at the 2008 Head of the Des Moines.
The top crew of Sweeney's K-State tenure has been the 2008-09 1V8+. The winningest Wildcat crew Sweeney has put together, their accolades include capturing gold at the Head of the Des Moines, defeating Alabama on its own Black Warrior River, clenching a tightly contested third at the San Diego Crew Classic, producing a convincing victory over rival Kansas to secure the Kansas Cup as well the crew's ultimate feat of a gold medal finish at the Big 12 Championship.
In more recent years, Sweeney boasts the growth of a team whose strength and power run deep. Last season, in particular, was a season of firsts for Wildcat rowing. K-State kicked off the 2013-14 campaign by notching program-first victories over a ranked opponent with multiple victories against then-No. 19 Oklahoma at the Longhorn Invitational. The season-opening momentum continued throughout with the Wildcats defending their Sunflower Showdown title a fourth-consecutive time against Kansas and capturing five gold medals at SIRAs.
Sweeney’s 11th season with team concluded with program-best finishes at both the Big 12 and Conference USA Championships. In Oklahoma City for Big 12s, the Wildcats finished a close second to the Sooners highlighted by a gold medal showing by the 2V4 and runner-up efforts from both the 1V8+ and 2V8+. Lastly, at C-USAs, the Wildcats depth shined through once again with the 1V4 nabbing gold and an overall third-place finish.
Sweeney arrived at K-State in 2003 after a one-year appointment as the associate men's varsity coach at Stanford. Prior to his year there, Sweeney was head coach and technical director of the Belgian Olympic Team for six years.
A multiple champion as a coxswain, Sweeney began his competitive career at the age of 12 for club crews in his native England. He eventually progressed to the British National Team, where he competed as a coxswain in eight World Championships (two gold, three silver) and three Olympic Games (one silver, one bronze).
Sweeney and his wife, Martha, reside in Manhattan with their 16-year-old daughter, Toula.
GRACE URE | Assistant Coach
Former Wildcat student-athlete Grace (Riekenberg) Ure returns for her eighth year as Recruiting Coordinator for the K-State Women's Rowing program. Ure learned to row at K-State, participating on the team from 2001-05. During that time she worked her way from the back of the pack to serve as co-captain her senior year. Returning to the team as Recruiting Coordinator and Assistant Coach, Grace is the first point of contact for most incoming athletes and teaches the sport to K-State's beginners.
A two-year letter winner for the Wildcats, Ure raced in the 1st Varsity 8+ for two years. Her junior year was highlighted by winning gold at the SIRA Championship. Her senior year was highlighted by a gold medal finish in the 1V4 at the Head of the Iowa and winning the team trophies at both the Sunflower Showdown and the Kansas Cup.
Ure earned a bachelor's degree from Kansas State in English Literature in 2005. During her undergraduate studies, she was selected to the Dean's List from 2001-05. She was also inducted into the 2005 Phi Beta Kappa national academic honor society. Ure earned a place on the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll all eight semesters while attending K-State.
After graduating from K-State, Ure continued both her academic and athletic careers at Oxford University. Rowing for the Oxford University Women's Boat Club, she helped the Blue Boat to its 2006 victory in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race and set the University Pennant course record at the 2007 Women's Eights Head of the River Race. Individually, Ure won the silver medal at the 2006 British Indoor Rowing Championships. She earned a master of philosophy with distinction in Medieval English Literature from Oxford.
On July 21, 2012, she married Erik Ure. The couple resides in Manhattan.
STEPHANIE VANMATRE | Assistant Coach
A former student-athlete for the Wildcats, Stephanie (Riegle) VanMatre returns for her seventh season as an Assistant Coach for the K-State Women's Rowing program. VanMatre was a coxswain from 2000-2004 and then returned as the team's undergraduate assistant while she completed her undergraduate degree. Now a full-time coach, she is in charge of teaching athletes to race.
The past two seasons VanMatre has worked primarily with the varsity 4+'s. In 2013, she coached the 1V4+ which became the first K-State boat to medal (bronze) at the Conference USA Championship. In 2014, she coached the 2V4+ that took first at the Big 12 Championship and also the 1V4+ that became the first K-State boat to claim gold at Conference USAs.
A letter winner at K-State, VanMatre was a coxswain for the Wildcats from 2000-04 under Head Coach Jenny Hale and later, Head Coach Patrick Sweeney. She was a member of the team that competed at the Head of the Charles in Boston, Massachusetts, and also raced as a Wildcat at the Henley Women's Regatta in England. Her senior year was highlighted by a silver medal performance at SIRAs. As an undergraduate assistant, VanMatre aided with practice and coached the freshman coxswains.
A native of Wichita, Kansas, and 2000 graduate of Trinity Academy, VanMatre earned her bachelor's degree from Kansas State in Family Studies and Human Services in 2005.
She lives in Clay Center with her husband Clinton.
HANNA WILTFONG | Graduate Assistant Coach
Hanna Wiltfong is in her 3rd year as a graduate assistant coach with the K-State Rowing team. After training as a member of the team from 2007-2012 and serving as a team captain from 2010-2012, she now assists the staff in recruiting, teaching rowing and coaching new student athletes while pursuing a Master’s degree in College Student Development- Administration.