Kansas rowing continues prep for 2018

LAWRENCE, Kan. – With the winter season coming to an end and the Kansas River starting to thaw, Kansas rowing has taken little time off in its preparations for the 2018 season.

From the fall season to training camp in Florida to the start of indoor training, the Jayhawks are looking forward to the first full spring season under the direction of interim head coach Carrie Cook-Callen.

“The spring is our main racing season and it’s what we look forward to the whole year,” Cook-Callen said. “It’s what we train for and we are excited to get to that point, but right now we are still in our preparation for it. We want to be ready because it will be here before we know it.”

Team meeting before hitting the
water during winter training.

The Jayhawks wasted no time getting out on the water to start the New Year. Kansas spent 10 days in Tampa, Florida, cleaning up its technique and building mental toughness that will become an integral part during the long season. With the focus being on technique and form during the fall, the weeks leading up to the start of the spring season can be centered on strength and adding power behind those movements.

“The end goal for our team is to have one of the fastest teams that we’ve ever had. That’s what we do every year is just build a faster team than the last,” assistant coach Rachelle Pauly said.

Along with solidifying the technical work, building up strength and creating endurance, being out on the water twice a day for three hours at a time allowed for the Jayhawks to work on their mental stamina.

“Mental toughness is a really hard thing to achieve, especially in rowing, you really need that one on your side as much as you need your physical strength,” said sophomore Morgan Kottas.

Kansas has had to hold onto that mental toughness as the Jayhawks continue to train indoors until the river is race ready. With the team being anxious about getting out on the water, everyone is counting down the days until the dock goes back into the river. The goal for when KU finally hits the water is picking up right where they left off in Tampa over a month ago. 

“Our ergs face the water, so we’ve been watching the river thaw,” Pauly said. “We’ve been working hard inside and we’re ready to be able to work on the water.”

In a couple weeks when the Jayhawks will finally hit the water, they will continue to prepare for their first of two scrimmages against Tulsa and Indiana to start off the season. These two races will allow Kansas to gather all the information they need to continue to move forward in its racing throughout the season. Tulsa and Indiana will give KU its first competition environment of the spring season and give freshmen the opportunity of a 2,000-meter race for the very first time.

“These scrimmages will help everyone settle down a little bit and make sure we are calm for the upcoming races, but also get excited for the spring season,” freshman Katie Donnellan said.

Following two weekends of scrimmages, Kansas will jump right into the bulk of its season with regattas all four weekends during the month of April, including two at home. During these four weeks, Kansas will split time between New Jersey, Virginia and Kansas City.

“It’s so much fun when it finally gets here because we’ve prepared this whole time for that stretch of competition,” Kottas said. “It’s a great feeling to know that if your boat didn’t do that well that we have the very next weekend to make that up.”

Practice session during KU’s
winter training trip in Tampa.

The Jayhawks’ two home events consist of a Big 12 Double Dual against Alabama and Tennessee April 7 and the annual Dillons Sunflower Showdown with in-state rival Kansas State April 28. KU will look to use its home-course advantage to take its racing to the next level in front of a few extra fans, friends and family.

“Toward the end of the race you can really start to hear the crowd,” junior Lilly Stewart said. “Once you pass the 1,500-meter mark, you know you only have 500 meters left, you can hear everyone around you and you know it’s go time.”

Kansas has come away with the win in the Sunflower Showdown the last two seasons. This year is different as KU looks to make it three straight for a strong finish and leading into a successful Big 12 Championship come May.

 “I think we have a serious shot to medal and take top three as a team at the Big 12 Championship,” Stewart said. “We have so many powerful athletes that I think this could be our year.”

The Jayhawks know that the success at the end of the season starts with all the training being put in even before getting out on the water. And whether it’s in an eight or a four, Kansas is looking to be the best it can be at the end of May.

“Our biggest goal is to reach our full potential and to highlight that at the Big 12 Championship,” Cook-Callen said.

Up Next
Kansas heads south to Tulsa for its first of two scrimmages in the spring March 9-10. 





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