Rock Chalk Weekly: Kansas Rowing Begins Spring Season

Written by Adam Sullivan, Kansas Communications Student Assistant

This spring marks the 20th season for the University of Kansas rowing program, which also marks the 20-year milestone for KU head coach Rob Catloth. Though the official NCAA rowing season doesn’t begin until the spring, the Jayhawks began preparation back in the fall with a challenging early schedule. First up for the Jayhawks was the second-annual Jayhawk Jamboree at the state-of-the-art Kansas Boathouse.

Fans lined the banks of the Kansas River, enjoying the opportunity to attend the Jamboree for the second year. Tailgates even broke out for those not partaking in the variety of concessions, including traditional cotton candy, funnel cakes and a Free State Brewery stand. More than 2,000 fans showed up to cheer on the Jayhawks.

Kansas had several successes to cheer about with 12 top-10 finishes on the day, seven of which were top-five.

“I thought the crowd was wonderful,” Catloth said. “This is becoming a great event for KU and Lawrence.”

Up next for Kansas was a trip to one of the biggest regattas in the country, The Head of the Hooch in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which annually welcomes over 2,000 boats each year for two days of racing.

“It’s become one of the largest, by participation, regattas in the United States,” said Catloth. “They call it ‘the last of the great fall regattas.’ It’s really good competition and just a great exciting race to attend.”

Kansas had two boats place in the top-10 at the Head of the Hooch, wrapping up the fall slate of its 2014-15 schedule. The last piece of the preparation puzzle for the Jayhawks would be their annual training trip over winter break.

“It’s definitely a good environment for our athletes to mentally prepare for what they’re doing,” stated Catloth. “There are no distractions down there and it’s a beautiful area with great water. Basically, we use this time to get the athletes rowing better and ready to perform at a high level for the spring.”

Though the trip is located in a vacation destination, the Jayhawks are there for business and use the time wisely. The Jayhawks rowed close to 300 miles over an eight-day span, improving their fundamentals and building good technical habits to carry over into the season.

Kansas opened its spring competition at the Cardinal Invitational in Oak Ridge, Tennessee March 14-15. This regatta is known for its outstanding competition, and this year was no different. Kansas lined up against No. 2 Virginia, No. 12 Notre Dame, No. 18 Louisville, Alabama, Central Florida, Michigan State and Tennessee over the two-day stretch.

On the first day of competition, KU earned a third-place finish in the First Varsity Eight, Second Varsity Eight and First Varsity Four. KU then claimed two fourth-place finishes in the Third Varsity Eight and Second Novice Eight races to round out the morning session.

In the afternoon, Kansas opened up with a fourth-place finish in the First Varsity Eight and Second Varsity Eight races. The Jayhawks claimed third-place in the First and Second Varsity Four races. The best finish in the opening day of competition was a second-place finish by the Third Varsity Eight boat with a time of 6:29.526. All conspired to be a solid debut for a young Kansas roster that features 15 freshmen.

In the second day of racing, Kansas performed extremely well as the Jayhawks were able to cruise to two first-place finishes.

Kansas began the morning session with a second-place finish in the First Varsity Eight with a time of 6:05.088, just four seconds behind top-finisher Michigan State. The next race featured the First Varsity Four where the Jayhawks earned their first victory of the young season, winning the race nearly three seconds ahead of the nearest competitor. The Jayhawks would also claim first in the Second Varsity Four race as KU finished more than 10 seconds ahead of the second-place boat.

With the first regatta of the season in the books, Kansas returns to Lawrence to host Drake in an exhibition dual on March 28, the first chance for Kansas fans to see the Jayhawks at home in 2015. The race will take place in Lawrence on the Kansas River at the prestigious Kansas Boathouse. Fans are encouraged to pack the Kaw and cheer on the Jayhawks.

Kansas will then turn its attention to SMU as the two teams will square off April 4 in Dallas, Texas. It will be the second-straight season that the Jayhawks and Mustangs have met, as SMU participated in the Sunflower Showdown last season. The trip to Dallas will mark the first for KU since SMU hosted a dual against KU in 2005. Kansas and SMU have some history on the water; this will be the 12th time the two squads have squared off, four of those meetings occurring in the NCAA Regionals.

Following the dual at SMU, the Jayhawks will head to West Windsor, New Jersey to compete in the Knecht Cup, one of the most prominent regattas in the spring. The April 11-12 event will mark the seventh time Kansas will compete in the Knecht Cup and the first trip to New Jersey since 2013.

Once the Jayhawks return to Lawrence, they will get set to host the Big Ten vs. Big 12 double dual on April 25 at Wyandotte Lake in Kansas City. The double dual will feature national power Wisconsin, as well as, Iowa and Oklahoma. It will be a great test for not only KU, but also the Big 12 Conference. Fans have a tremendous opportunity to support KU and see high-quality racing that Saturday.

The last home regatta of the season will be May 2, when Kansas welcomes in-state rival Kansas State to Wyandotte Lake in Kansas City. The dual will be Senior Day for Kansas as the Jayhawks will recognize seniors Julia Alvey, Erin Brogan, Kristen Byrd, Alexa Fowlkes, Allie Griffin, Jennifer Hartzler, Sarah Lasini, Claudijah Lever and Brooke Thuston. 

KU will then head to Oak Ridge, Tennessee for the Big 12 Championships, May 16-17. KU will face off against conference foes Alabama, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Old Dominion, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. The Jayhawks hope to continue last season’s success at the Big 12 Championships, where KU claimed two victories, winning the First Varsity Four and Fourth Varsity Eight.

 Fill out my online form. Find more great content like this and other stories from Kansas Athletics inside this week’s edition of Rock Chalk Weekly, available via app on your tablet and smart phone, or in the web content viewer at
Inside this week’s issue:

Download the app: