Kansas heads south for Sunshine State Invite

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas rowing hits the road again for the Sunshine State Invite April 5-6 in Sarasota, Florida. The two-day regatta will host 12 schools from around the country, including Big 12 foes Kansas State and No. 18 Alabama. The Jayhawks will also face Old Dominion, Jacksonville, UCF, Stetson, Miami, Tulsa, Clemson, Louisville and SMU.

This is not only KU’s first appearance at the Sunshine State Invite, but this is also the Jayhawks first competition in Florida. Kansas has spent the last few years in the Sunshine State for winter training, but this will be the first competitive regatta in Florida.

The Jayhawks will see their in-state rival for the first time this season as Kansas takes on Kansas State meet on the water in several events.  Like Kansas, the Wildcats have only one competition under their belts as they claimed nine victories at the Hornet Invitational in Sacramento, California. The last time the two squads squared off was last fall at the Jayhawk Jamboree. Kansas edged Kansas State, as the Jayhawks crossed the finish line less than a second ahead of the Wildcats, to take first in the Women’s Collegiate 8 Sprints.

2016 Rowing

Along with Kansas State, the Jayhawks are getting an early look at Big 12 opponent, Alabama. The No. 18 Crimson Tide are coming into the Sunshine State Invite after sweeping their opponents the last three weeks. Alabama out raced Jacksonville and Creighton in six 2,000-meter races and three sprint pieces. Old Dominion is also looking to continue its hot streak as ODU swept George Mason in all four events. The Monarch’s win was highlighted by the Second Varsity Four topping the Patriots by over a minute.

Another opponent KU will face this weekend is the familiar Tulsa Golden Hurricanes. Having scrimmagged just a few weeks ago, KU and Tulsa will look to see how each program has improved with more time on the water. KU and UCF are also no strangers to one another, as the two faced off last fall at the Head of the Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. The Knights are also coming into the Sunshine State Invite after a successful weekend, having won five-of-six events. Miami last saw competition at the Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational.

Kansas is working towards some redemption as KU and Clemson go back at it for the second time this spring. The Jayhawks and the Tigers saw each other in four events at the Cooper Sprints on March 24. Clemson advanced to three Grand Finals with its best finish coming with a fifth-place finish in the First Varsity Four (7:54.01).

KU was put to the test at its first regatta of the spring when five shells competed at the Cooper Sprints in Cherry Hill, New Jersey two weeks ago. Kansas’ Second Varsity Four placed second in its qualifying heat to advance the Grand Finals where  the Wakarusa placed fourth with a time of 8:17.83. KU’s First Varsity Eight, Wave the Wheat, advanced to its Petite Final and capping off the weekend with a third-place finish (6:45.02).

The Jayhawks rounded out the top three of the Second Varsity Eight Petite Final as Ad Astra competed in a nail bitter, finishing .04 seconds behind Drexel. KU’s First Varsity Four and Third Varsity Eight both had fourth-place finishes with times of 7:53.18 and 7:32.72, respectively.

Kansas Jayhawks

The Big 12 Conference’s highest academic honor, the Dr. Gerald Lage Academic Achievement Award, recognized 13 Kansas student-athletes. Kelly Koenigsman, Morgan Kottas, Liana Ochoa and Riley Varuska became eligible for the accolade with a cumulative GPA of 3.80 after 100 hours of earned credit.

During the 2017-18 school year, Jayhawks not only excelled in competition, but also in the classroom. Rowing led the way for Kansas with 14 of the 45 student-athletes from KU earning a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00 and were named to the Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team. Among those honored were London Acree, Megan Akers, Shannon Cody, Katie Donnellan, Maggie Dupuie, Lauren Fee, Jaryn Folk, Julia Isbell, Liana Ochoa, Anna Van Driel and Emma Yowell. Nine other student-athletes were also recognized for their academic efforts and earned the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) National Scholar Athlete honor. Reese Arnold, Kate Englander, Kelly Koenigsman, Morgan Kottas, Lilly Stewart, Valerie Swisher and recent graduates Meghan Karoly, Kaelyn Thierolf and Margret Winter were all recognized as scholar athletes by the CRCA.

To close out the month of April and for the third-straight year, Kansas will compete at the George Mason Invite. The Jayhawks and the Big 12 will try to defend their title on April 14 after winning the last two years.

Kansas then looks to the annual Dillons Sunflower Showdown on Saturday, May 4, for the second home regatta of the year at Wyandotte County Lake in Kansas City, Kansas. KU’s First Varsity Eight, Wave the Wheat, crossed the finish line four seconds ahead of Kansas State to take first place. The Jayhawks will look to bring the Kansas Cup back with a victory in the dual against K-State. For the fifth-consecutive year, Kansas will travel to Oak Ridge, Tennessee for the Big 12 Championship May 18-19.

Kansas head back to the east coast for the George Mason Invite on Sunday, April 14 on the Occoquan Resevoir in Fairfax Station, Virginia.