Kottas, Burns earn top KU rowing honors for 2019

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas rowing celebrated the 2019 season with its annual end of the year banquet and luncheon following KU’s trip to the 2019 Big 12 Championship in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

With finals and the racing season over, the Jayhawks came together on Monday afternoon to celebrate the accomplishments and hard work over the last 12 months. Junior Morgan Kottas and sophomore Heidi Burns were honored with the top honors after being named the 2019 Oarswoman of the Year and Coxswain of the Year, respectively.

Both Kottas and Burns were members of the First Varsity Eight crew this past season, excelling both on and off the water claiming awards for their efforts in the boat and in the classroom. With their help, the 1V8 finished fourth at the 2019 Big 12 Championship, two places ahead of their seating.

Freshman Lillian Thomas worked her way up to the top 16 throughout the season and earned a seat in the First Varsity Eight. Her work throughout the 2018-19 season earned Thomas the Most Outstanding Freshman honor from the coaches.

Another first-year rower that quickly moved her way up the ranks was freshman Hailey Smith. After earning a seat in the Second Varsity Eight and at times the First Varsity Eight, Smith was named the Outstanding Newcomer of the Year for the 2019.

Kansas Jayhawks

The coaching staff awarded the Most Improved Rower to senior Michaela Theis. The Kingman, Kansas native was a permanent fixture in the Fours and finished the season in KU’s First Varsity Four at the Big 12 Championship. Theis and the 1V4 claimed Big 12 Boat of the Week honors after winning bother their heat and final at the George Mason Invite.

Freshman Elise Jones was awarded Most Improved Novice by the coaching staff. Jones competed in the Fourth Varsity Eight as a freshman and helped the 4V8 to victory over Creighton.

Each year, the senior class chooses an underclassmen for the Essence of a Jayhawk award. The honor goes to a rower that exhibits the qualities of a Jayhawk – being a good teammate and a positive individual that works hard. As selected by the seniors, the 2019 honoree was Kottas.

Additionally, all of the Jayhawks that earned a letter during the 2018-19 academic year received their letterman’s gift. The first year letterwinners were present with their letterman jacket, while the second years got their K blanket and the third years received their K watch. Earlier in the spring, the senior class were presented with their K Ring.