Kansas advances all boats to Grand Finals of Big 12 Rowing Championship

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OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – University of Kansas rowing accomplished what it set out to accomplish on day one of the Big 12 Championship as all five of its boats advanced to the Grand Finals on Saturday at Melton Lake in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The Grand Finals begin on Sunday at 8 a.m. Central time.

In addition to advancing to the Grand Finals, all five boats finished in third place of their respective qualifying heats, while KU’s Third Varsity Four boat also finish third in its exhibition contest.

“That was our number-one goal today – to get all our boats in the Grand Finals,” Kansas head coach Rob Catloth said. “Time-wise, we are in the hunt. There are parts of our performance that, if we come out a little stronger on tomorrow, we will be more competitive. As long as we make those little improvements, we can be in contention for all the races tomorrow.”

The First Varsity Eight began the day with a narrow finish behind Alabama for third place in heat one of the competition. The two-time reigning Big 12 Boat of the Week finished with a 6:34.075 2,000-meter time, just under two seconds behind Alabama’s 6:32.237 effort.

“We feel confident that we advanced to the Grand Final,” 1V8 senior rower Maddie Irelan said. “We know what we need to improve upon tomorrow. It was good to see some of the teams we will face again tomorrow. Now, it’s just getting that race mentality and getting everything locked-down and prepared for what we need to do for the race tomorrow.”

In the second race of the day, KU’s Second Varsity Eight finished with a 6:47.853 time behind Texas and Kansas State in heat one. The Jayhawks’ 2V8 improved upon its 6.53.880 time from earlier this season, which was clocked on the same course during the Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational on March 12.

KU’s First Varsity Four boat made its way to the Grand Finals with a time of 7:24.485, behind Texas and Tennessee in heat one.  

“The race in the First Four went really well,” 1V4 junior rower Margret Winter said. “I thought we had a really strong body of the race. We have been working on a lot of details in practice this week and we executed really well. We know what we need to work on tomorrow to come back and get a medal.”

Based on Saturday’s results, Kansas and Tennessee are primed to go bow-ball to bow-ball for a potential medal in the Second Varsity Four competition. The Jayhawks clocked in with a 7:32.186 time in heat two, while the Volunteers finished with a 7:31.644 time in heat one. Since there were only seven boats in the Second Four race, all seven teams will advance to the Grand Final.

There was another close finish in the Third Varsity Eight as Kansas State edged Kansas by fractions of a second – an exact margin of 0.987 seconds – for second place in heat one. The Jayhawks will have a turn at redemption tomorrow in the Grand Finals.

The day concluded with the Third Varsity Four exhibition race. Kansas improved upon its No. 4 seed entering the event, finishing with a third-place time of 7:47.850 ahead of Tennessee. With no Grand Final race tomorrow for any 3V4 boat, KU’s 3V4 concludes the season after a strong finish behind freshman coxswain Riley Varuska, sophomore Kelly Koenigsman, sophomore Michaela Theis, freshman Alex Burns and freshman Kate Englander.

The conditions on the water at Melton Lake couldn’t have been better with clear skies, temperatures in the mid-70s, minimal wind and smooth water.

“This site here in Oak Ridge is just a beautiful site for the Big 12 Championship,” Catloth added. “When you’re in the mountains, it’s always good water, good wind. It’s an ideal spot to have good, fair races. We really enjoy the venue.”  

Sunday’s Grand Finals at Melton Hill Lake begin at 8 a.m. Central time. The action will be streamed for free in its entirety on Big12Sports.com. Live scoring is also available through Delta Timing.


Big 12 Rowing Championship – Day 1, Prelims

First Varsity Eight
Heat 1
1. Texas – 6:10.666
2. Alabama – 6:32.237
3. KANSAS – 6:34.075
4. West Virginia – 6:41.546

Heat 2
1. Oklahoma – 6:27.947
2. Tennessee – 6:33.065
3. Kansas State – 6:38.861
4. Old Dominion – 6:46.945

Second Varsity Eight
Heat 1
1. Texas – 6:26.742
2. Kansas State – 6:42.537
3. KANSAS – 6:47.853
4. Old Dominion – 7:13.333

Heat 2
1. Oklahoma – 6:32.849
2. Tennessee – 6:34.356
3. Alabama – 6:57.662
4. West Virginia – 7:07.385

First Varsity Four
Heat 1
1. Texas – 7:07.812
2. Tennessee – 7:21.123
3. KANSAS – 7:24.485
4. Old Dominion – 7:52.074

Heat 2
1. Alabama – 7:15.272
2. Oklahoma – 7:15.846
3. Kansas State – 7:29.603
4. West Virginia – 7:39.079

Second Varsity Four
Heat 1
1. Texas – 7:12.170
2. Tennessee – 7:31.644
3. Kansas State – 7:34.257

Heat 2
1. Oklahoma – 7:16.613
2. Alabama – 7:23.359
3. KANSAS – 7:32.186
4. West Virginia – 7:46.499

Third Varsity Eight
Heat 1
1. Texas – 6:42.148
2. Kansas State – 6:59.079
3. KANSAS – 7:00.066
4. West Virginia – 7:27.003

Heat 2
1. Oklahoma – 6:44.535
2. Alabama – 6:46.153
3. Tennessee – 6:56.500
4. Old Dominion – 7:24.858

Third Varsity Four (Exhibition)
1. Texas – 7:21.372
2. Alabama – 7:28.357
3. KANSAS – 7:47.850
4. Tennessee – 7:59.919


Sunday, May 14 – Finals
8:15 a.m. – Third Varsity Eight, Grand Final
8:45 a.m. – Second Varsity Four, Grand Final
9:15 a.m. – First Varsity Four, Grand Final
9:45 a.m. – Second Varsity Eight, Grand Final
10:15 a.m. – First Varsity Eight, Grand Final
11 a.m. – Awards Ceremony


First Eight
Coxswain: Mallory Miller
McKayla Ross
BriAnna Dittberner
Katherine Young
Maddie Irelan
Kaelyn Thierolf
Meghan Karoly
Jordan Helms
Peyton Anderson

Second Eight
Coxswain: Kenzie Obrochta
Kayla Stubblefield
Lilly Stewart
Angie Allen
Allison Schaaf
Reese Arnold
Kylee Dewey
Bailey Blood
Morgan Kottas

First Four
Coxswain: Bailey Coolidge
Margret Winter
Lexie Lanphere
Emily Ruble
Brittney Railsback

Second Four
Coxswain: Katie McWhirter
Aminah Reid-Brydon
Kalyn Blessing
Mackenzie Klaver
Madison Wedderspoon

Third Eight
Coxswain: Abigale Lane
Bailey Brandon
Kristen Underhill
Caitlin McNulty
Valerie Swisher
Isabel Horosz
Madison Ruffalo
Kaitlyn Finger
Madison Hovis

Third Four
Coxswain: Riley Varuska
Kelly Koenigsman
Michaela Theis
Alex Burns
Kate Englander

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