Kansas ready for 2018 Big 12 Championship

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas rowing is looking to take the momentum built throughout the season into the 2018 Big 12 Championship May 12-13 on Melton Lake in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The Jayhawks will have boats in all five preliminary heats on opening day with  racing set to begin at 2 p.m. 

Last Timeout
Kansas concluded the 2017 season with a fourth-place team finish at the 2017 Big 12 Championship. The First Varsity Eight advanced to last year’s Grand Final and finished sixth with a time of 6:45.203, which is KU’s fastest time on Melton Lake in the three previous years it hosted the Big 12 Championship. The Jayhawks’ Second Varsity Eight also competed in the Grand Final on the last day of racing and crossed the finish line in fifth place in 6:52.598. The First and Second Varsity Four boats both took fifth place in their races with times of 7:23.889 and 7:38.010, respectively. KU’s most exciting finish of the weekend came from the Third Varsity Eight overcoming being down by nearly a boat length, to edge Tennessee by less than half a second to take fifth place. 

Scouting The Opponents
Last year’s Big 12 Champions, No. 3 Texas, is coming off a team win at the Longhorn Invitational. The Longhorns finished the 2017 Big 12 Championship with 137 team points after sweeping the entire field and taking first in all five Grand Finals. Oklahoma also wrapped up its regular season at the Longhorn Invite in which the Sooners finished fifth out of eight teams with a win from their First Varsity Eight B boat. OU finished the 2017 season 24 points behind Texas at the Big 12 Championship last year. Kansas State is coming into the weekend after outpacing Kansas in four of five races at the annual Dillons Sunflower Showdown. In last year’s Big 12 Championship, the Wildcats placed third overall with a team score of 92 after their highest finish of the weekend coming from the Third Varsity Eight with a third-place finish. 

West Virginia closed out the regular season with a double dual against Saint Joseph’s and Delaware. The Mountaineers won three of four races against Saint Joseph’s and were out raced by Delaware in all four of their matchups. West Virginia rounded out the top five in last year’s Big 12 Championship, finishing 25 points behind the Jayhawks. Tennessee finished the regular season in Worchester, Massachusetts for Women’s Sprints. The Volunteers’ best result from the sprints came with a first-place finish from the First Varsity Eight with a time of 6:37.418. In its last timeout, Old Dominion helped Kansas and West Virginia take the George Mason Invite for the second straight year. 

Jayhawks Finish in Record Time
At the GMU Invite, the Jayhawks sent all five boats to the top finals in their events. The First Varsity Eight, Wave The Wheat, crossed the finish line in 6:25.7, clocking in at one of the fastest times in program history while not being assisted by river flow or current. The First Varsity Eight and Second Varsity Four brought home gold medals to help lead the Big 12 Conference to victory over the Atlantic 10 Conference and the Colonial Athletic Association.

Scholar Athletes
The Big 12 Conference announced earlier this year the recipients of its highest honor, the Dr. Gerald Lage Award. A total of 14 Kansas student-athletes earned this recognition, including rowing’s redshirt-junior Meghan Karoly and senior Kaelyn Thierolf. In order to receive this honor, a student-athlete must have 100 hours of credit with a cumulative GPA of 3.80 or higher. This is the eighth year the award has honored academic excellence after Lage, who served as the Oklahoma State faculty athletics representative with the NCAA and the Big Eight/12 Conference from 1983 until 2007.  

Ranking the Competition
Kansas has faced tough competition this season with two of its opponents, Texas and Oklahoma, ranked among the top 20 in the CRCA/US Rowing Coaches Poll. Additionally, the Jayhawks traveled to Indiana, another program ranked among the best in the country, for their final tune up before the 2018 spring season opened. In the first poll of the year that was released on March 28, KU was receiving votes along with Tennessee. 

Course Correction
Meghan Karoly does not take no for an answer. Her drive and determination for success is evident in her journey to becoming a Division I student-athlete at the University of Kansas. Read the full story at RockChalkWeekly.com.

Wave the Wheat and Ad Astra   
Along with a new season and new members of the Jayhawk family, Kansas added two new shells to the boathouse. The first, Ad Astra, was named after the Kansas motto “to the stars through difficulties.” The Jayhawks needed help from fans to name the second boat. The community was able to send in suggestions and vote on the favorite name later on. With over a thousand votes, Wave the Wheat beat out almost 200 suggestions from the fans. 

Waving the wheat has symbolized a winning tradition at Kansas and the Jayhawks are excited to incorporate such a tradition into their winning ways on the water. Going forward with the season, Wave the Wheat and Ad Astra will be the boats of choice for the First and Second Varsity Eights.  




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