Senior-Led Kansas Wins Sunflower Showdown
KANSAS CITY, Kan.— Senior Day couldn’t have ended any better for the University of Kansas rowing team. On Saturday morning, a remarkable final push from the First Varsity Eight powered the Jayhawks to a comeback victory over rival Kansas State in the Sunflower Showdown, 14-9.
“Every year it comes down to the last event, and the Varsity Eight usually decides who gets the trophy,” Kansas head coach Rob Catloth stated. “This year we were on the upside of that and we’re really pleased with how we did. We’ve been training hard and I’m very proud of all our women.”
Fans of both Kansas and Kansas State packed the pavilion and banks of Wyandotte County Lake in Kansas City, Kansas for the 18th annual Sunflower Showdown. Complete with pre-race tailgating and thrilling close contests, more than 600 fans were on hand to watch the Jayhawks reclaim the Kansas Cup.
KU’s First Varsity Eight powered the comeback
victory in the final strokes of the regatta finaleBoth teams saved the best race for the end of the day. With Kansas State leading the point race, 9-5, the Jayhawks needed a win in the First Varsity Eight to clinch the Kansas Cup for the first time since 2010. The Wildcats jumped out to an early lead in the first 500 meters, but Kansas kept pushing. Rowing in their last Sunflower Showdown, seniors Julia Alvey, Jennifer Hartlzer, Claudijah Lever and Brooke Thuston gave it their all, ignoring K-State’s lead and fighting to close the gap.
Coming down to the final strokes, Kansas caught the Wildcats and surged past, fervently awaiting the announcer’s call – ‘Kansas Wins!’ Fans on shore and the women in the boat collectively roared as they heard the final times. Every single push mattered, the Jayhawks finished the race with a time of 6:52.1 – while K-State finished in 6:52.46. Joining the seniors, who collected their first Sunflower Showdown victory, were juniors Maggie Duncan and coxswain Mary Slattery, sophomores Maddie Irelan, Lexie Lanphere and Allison Schaaf.
“It’s really exciting to win,” Catloth said. “You only have to win by one point, so four-tenths of a second got us the trophy. We’re really excited about that.”
The Showdown began with the Third Varsity Four race where Kansas cruised to a first-place finish, striking first on the scoreboard. The Jayhawks crossed the finish line with a time of 7:49.5, more than 20 seconds quicker than the Wildcats. The all-freshmen boat consisted of coxswain Bailey Coolidge, Caitlin McNulty, Keaton Poppe, Daisy Tackett and Kailey Tennant.
The Third Varsity Eight watched the Jayhawks add two more points to their lead as they finished in first place with a time of 7:01.4. Like the 3V4, KU jumped out to an early lead and never trailed, winning the race by more than 10 seconds. The Jayhawks were paced by seniors Kristen Byrd and Allie Griffin, junior coxswain Briana Pina, sophomores Bailey Brandon, Brittney Railsback, Emily Ruble and Margret Winter, freshmen Ally Fullerton and Payton Vedders.
In the Second Varsity Four race, Kansas outlasted the Wildcats for the third-straight time. The Jayhawks finished in first place to tack on an additional two points to their team total, making the overall score Kansas 5, Kansas State 0. KU crossed the finish line with a time of 7:44.3, defeating Kansas State by 15 seconds. Rowing for KU were senior coxswain Sarah Lasini, juniors Jackie Adamle and Casey Kelly, sophomore Danielle Gibson and freshman Angie Allen.
Looking for its first win of the day, Kansas State outpaced KU in the First Varsity Four race. This time it came down to the final strokes as the Jayhawks took second place, falling just one second behind Kansas State with a time of 7:40.3. Kansas was led by senior Erin Brogan and sophomores Kate Cropp, Kylee Dewey, Mackenzie Klaver and coxswain Mallory Miller.
Setting up the photo finish finale, the second-to-last race of the day was the Second Varsity Eight race worth six points. After winning the first three races, KU fell behind when Kansas State came up with the win. The Jayhawk boat finished with a time of 7:05.8, powered by senior Alexa Fowlkes, junior Tessa Scott, sophomores Jordan Helms, Madison Hovis, Olivia Loney, coxswain Kenzie Obrochta and Katherine Young and freshmen BriAnna Dittberner and Kaelyn Thierolf.
Trailing 9-5, the Jayhawks had to have the win in the First Varsity Eight – and that’s exactly what they got.
Kansas and Kansas State will see each other again soon at the Big 12 Championship set for May 16-17 in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
COMPLETE KANSAS RESULTS:
First Varsity Eight – 1st place (6:52.1)
Mary Slattery – Coxswain
Second Varsity Eight – 2nd place (7:05.8)
Kenzie Obrochta – Coxswain
First Varsity Four – 2nd place (7:40.3)
Mallory Miller – Coxswain
Second Varsity Four – 1st place (7:44.3)
Sarah Lasini – Coxswain
Third Varsity Eight – 1st place (7:01.4)
Briana Pina – Coxswain
Third Varsity Four – 1st place (7:49.5)
Bailey Coolidge – Coxswain