Jayhawk Insider: Novice Eight adds to medal count
By: Jordan Cronan
LAWRENCE, Kan. — The largest regatta of the year on the Kansas River is always special for KU rowing, but this Jayhawk Jamboree proved to be even more memorable for nine rowers as the Novice Eight won gold.
Nine Jayhawks, hailing from five different states, came together to win their first competition at Kansas.
“I couldn’t even believe it,” said freshman Lillian Thomas. “When I heard, I sprinted to let my boat know and celebrate with them. It was just amazing.”
As a novice group, the student-athletes have only been practicing out on the water for about six weeks. The first few weeks were focused on technique and rowing together as one cohesive unit, instead of eight individual rowers.
Leading up to the Jayhawk Jamboree, the novice rowers transitioned into longer workouts, preparing for the 4,000-meter course on the Kansas River, which is twice as long as the 2,000-meter course raced on during the spring season.
Anticipation had been building to finally compete in front of family, friends and fans for the very first time and the Jayhawks took full advantage of the opportunity.
“They were a little anxious to get out on the water for their first race, but prior to launching you could tell they were ready,” said assistant coach Alyssa Armstrong, who coaches the novice group. “The novice (group) as a whole has continued to bring a lot of energy to practice and race day proved to be no different.”
High winds and rough waters caused two events to be cancelled, despite harsh conditions Kansas A raced like it had been together for years and wouldn’t let the tough conditions get in its way of a gold medal in the Novice 8+.
“As we were getting to the bridge, the water got really bad and the wind picked up,” said Thomas. “We did a really good job staying focused, strong and relaxed. I think that’s what really helped us and what I am most proud of.”
The Jayhawks outpaced 10 other shells, crossing the finish line in front of Big 12 rivals Kansas State and Oklahoma. KU clocked a time of 15:39.1, three seconds ahead of Kansas State, adding to KU’s total medal count of four during the fall season.
The gold-medal shell was coxswained by freshman Danica Pecana and powered by junior Hannah Roemer (first year rowing as a transfer), freshmen Miranda Horn, Lillian Thomas, Abigail Benedict, Margo Hunter, Samantha Kummer, Maggie Habben and Izzy Hauber.
As a head race, boats are racing against the clock instead of side-by-side. Not seeing their competition may have been difficult for other boats, but not this novice group as KU continued to push like they were neck and neck with its competition.
“I was very pleased with their maturity and composure throughout the race,” said Armstrong. “They stuck to the (race) plan and kept pushing for more. With the amount of work and effort this group has put in, they deserved to see some positive results.”
The Jayhawks can’t wait to see what other positive results come from this young group of rowers.
Kansas will travel south for the Tulsa Fall Regatta Nov. 3 for the last competition of fall before winter sets in.
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