Kansas hits the east coast for George Mason Invite

LAWRENCE, Kan.  Kansas rowing heads back to the east coast for the Mason Invite on Sunday, April 14, on the Occoquan Reservoir in Fairfax Station, Virginia. The morning qualifying heats will consist of competition with the three conferences present and the fastest times from each conference races will move on to the top finals of the afternoon.

The annual regatta hosted by George Mason includes crews from West Virginia, Old Dominion, St. Joe’s, Duquesne, Eastern Michigan, Delaware and Villanova.

Kansas is looking for a three-peat as the Jayhawks have helped the Big 12 Conference claim the Mason Invite Cup the last two years. In both 2017 and 2018, KU swept the entire field in the qualifying heats to advance all five boats to the top finals. The Jayhawks’ most recent appearance at the Mason Invite ended with the First Varsity Eight and Second Varsity Four bringing home gold medals to lead the Big 12 to victory over the Atlantic 10 Conference and the Colonial Athletic Association for the second year in a row.

KU’s First Varsity Eight crossed the finish line in 6:34.8, finishing 12 seconds in front of runner up Old Dominion. Once advancing to the finals, Wave the Wheat cut nine seconds off of its previous time to take gold in the finals with a time of 6:25.7. The first-place finish was one of the fastest times in program history without being assisted by river flow or current.

The Mason Invite will be the second time Kansas and West Virginia have seen each other this spring after both competing in the Cooper Sprints on March 24. For the Mountaineers, it was also the last competition for them as the Occoquan Sprints were cancelled due to inclement weather. KU and WVU faced off in the First Varsity Eight qualifying heat, which Kansas finished in third place ahead of West Virginia’s fifth place. The Cooper Sprints were highlighted by a third-place finish in the petite final for the Mountaineers’ Second Varsity Four.

Kansas and Old Dominion competed in four qualifying heats and the First Varsity Four Petite Final at the Sunshine State Invite. ODU placed fifth in the First Varsity Eight, Second Varsity Eight and First Varsity Four Petite Finals, while the Second Varsity Four shell took sixth in its petite final. St. Joe’s placed third overall in the Washington College Invitational and posted a first-place finish in the First Varsity Four (6:51.51).

2016 Rowing

Duquesne, Eastern Michigan, Delaware and Villanova are all coming into the Mason Invite after competing against each other at the Cooper Invitational. Duquesne’s First Varsity Eight (7:22.38) and First Varsity Four (8:53.75) both placed sixth in their respective grand finals. Eastern Michigan comes into the Mason Invite after a first-place effort by the First Varsity Eight, finishing in 6:57.08 to bring home the gold in the grand final.

Delaware is coming off a strong showing as the Blue Hens won gold in the First Varsity Four Grand Final (8:03.34) and the Third Varsity Eight Petite Final (7:53.76). Villanova also saw success at the Cooper Invitational as the Wildcats advanced all six shells to the grand finals. Villanova’s First Varsity Eight finished fourth with a time of 7:07.97 and the Second Varsity Eight missed first place by .16 seconds (7:06.19). The Wildcats finished ahead of both Eastern Michigan and Delaware.

During the first day of racing, the Jayhawks advanced four of KU’s five shells to the grand finals. The First Varsity Eight rounded out the top three in its qualifying heat after closing the gap and out racing Clemson to take third place behind No. 18 Alabama and UCF with a time of 6:35.25. Wave the Wheat saw a familiar foe in its grand final as Kansas was in a close race with in-state rival Kansas State, finishing a second behind the Wildcats for fifth place.

Kansas took home some hardware as the Third Varsity Eight placed third in its grand final. The Quiet Beast was coxed by sophomore Emma Yowell and powered by freshman Jadyn Jay, freshman Amanda Binger, freshman Jenna Lenherr, sophomore London Acree, senior Valerie Swisher, freshman Maggie Habben, freshman Margo Hunter and sophomore Anna Van Driel.

The Jayhawks will look to bring the Kansas Cup back with a victory in the dual against K-State. Last year, KU’s First Varsity Eight, Wave the Wheat, crossed the finish line four seconds ahead of the Wildcats to take first place, but it wasn’t enough to take hom the Kansas Cup. For the fifth-consecutive year, Kansas will travel to Oak Ridge, Tennessee for the Big 12 Championship May 18-19.

The Jayhawks will be home as the Third and Fourth Varsity Eights take on Creighton on April 27 at the Kansas Boathouse on the Kansas River. In KU’s second home regatta of 2019, the Jayhawks will host the annual Dillons Sunflower Showdown against Kansas State on May 4 in Kansas City, Kansas at Wyandotte County Lake.