Jayhawks set for Dillons Sunflower Showdown

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Coming off a successful weekend at the George Mason Invitational, Kansas returns home to host in-state rival Kansas State in the 2018 Dillons Sunflower Showdown. The Jayhawks face the Wildcats on Saturday, April 28 at Wyandotte County Lake in Kansas City, Kansas. The first race begins at 11 a.m.    

Jayhawks Finish in Record Time
Kansas is looking to capitalize off a successful weekend at the GMU Invite in Virginia. The Jayhawks sent all five boats to the top finals in their events. The First Varsity Eight and Second Varsity Four brought home gold medals to help lead the Big 12 Conference to victory over the Atlantic 10 Conference and the Colonial Athletic Association. The First Varsity Eight, Wave The Wheat, crossed the finish line in 6:25.7, clocking in at one of the fastest times in program history while not being assisted by river flow or current. 

Last Timeout 
The Jayhawks enter the weekend looking to win the Dillons Sunflower Showdown for the fourth-straight year. Kansas kept the trophy in Lawrence last year with a come-from-behind victory in the last race of competition. Kansas State took first in the Second Varsity Four, Third Varsity Eight and Second Varsity Eight, while KU won the First Varsity Four, giving Kansas State a 10-3 lead. Kansas needed to win the last race of the day, the First Varsity Eight, to hoist the trophy. The Jayhawks were down by almost a full boat length until they worked their way back into the race to finish first and beat the Wildcats by less than a second. The First Varsity Eight win gave the Jayhawks the nine points they needed to win the Sunflower Showdown 12-10. 

Scouting the Wildcats
Kansas State sent all five boats into the finals last weekend at the SIRA Championship in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The Wildcats won medals in four of the five events, highlighted by a gold medal finish by the Second Varsity Eight with a time of 6:57.975, while the Third Varsity Eight took silver with a time of 7:10.25.6 in the Junior Varsity Eight and Lightweight Varsity Eight A Finals. The Wildcats’ Second Varsity Four also won gold in the Open B Finals with a time of 8:01.067. The First Varsity Eight placed third (6:50.508) in the Open A Finals behind Wisconsin and FIT. The Second Varsity Four for Kansas State finished second in its finals event with a time of 7:36.753, second only to Wisconsin.          

Scholar Athletes
The Big 12 Conference announced earlier this year the recipients of its highest honor, the Dr. Gerald Lage Award. A total of 14 Kansas student-athletes earned this recognition, including rowing’s redshirt-junior Meghan Karoly and senior Kaelyn Thierolf. In order to receive this honor, a student-athlete must have 100 hours of credit with a cumulative GPA of 3.80 or higher. This is the eighth year the award has honored academic excellence after Lage, who served as the Oklahoma State faculty athletics representative with the NCAA and the Big Eight/12 Conference from 1983 until 2007.  

Ranking the Competition
Kansas will face tough competition this season with two of its opponents, Texas and Oklahoma, ranked among the top 20 in the CRCA/US Rowing Coaches Poll. Additionally, the Jayhawks traveled to Indiana, another program ranked among the best in the country, for their final tune up before the 2018 spring season opened. In the first poll of the year that was released on March 28, KU was receiving votes along with Tennessee. 

The Student in Student-Athlete
With 32 different courses fo study among the 64 student-athletes on the University of Kansas rowing team, there’s no denying the value and importance that Kansas rowing places on academic excellence. The rowing team prides itself on diverse majors and academic success in those different areas. Read the full story at RockChalkWeekly.com.

Wave the Wheat and Ad Astra   
Along with a new season and new members of the Jayhawk family, Kansas added two new shells to the boathouse. The first, Ad Astra, was named after the Kansas motto “to the stars through difficulties.” The Jayhawks needed help from fans to name the second boat. The community was able to send in suggestions and vote on the favorite name later on. With over a thousand votes, Wave the Wheat beat out almost 200 suggestions from the fans. 

Waving the wheat has symbolized a winning tradition at Kansas and the Jayhawks are excited to incorporate such a tradition into their winning ways on the water. Going forward with the season, Wave the Wheat and Ad Astra will be the boats of choice for the First and Second Varsity Eights. 
Up Next
The Jayhawks will be on the road again for the 2018 Big 12 Championship in Oak Ridge, Tennessee on Melton Hill Lake May 12-13.  



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