Kansas Sends Four of Five to Big 12 Championship Grand Finals
OAK RIDGE, Tenn. —The University of Kansas rowing team made its mission known on Saturday afternoon competing in the Big 12 Championships in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, advancing all but one of its boats to Sunday’s Grand Finals.
Senior coxswain Sarah Lasini led the Second
Varsity Four into the Grand Finals.The first day of competition consisted of heat races for all the boats with the top-three finishers from each advancing to Sunday’s Grand Finals. The Jayhawks pushed for their goal of getting each boat to the Grand Finals, coming up only one short. The First Varsity Eight, Third Varsity Eight, First Varsity Four and Second Varsity Four all punched their tickets to Sunday’s biggest stage.
“I thought we had a pretty good day,” stated Kansas head coach Rob Catloth. “Our goal for the day was to have each boat advance to the Grand Finals. We missed our goal by one boat, however, that race was fairly tough for our Second Varsity Eight. They were in a tough heat with some great teams. They competed for most of the race but fell off at the end. It’s a young boat and I thought they performed extremely well. They had one of their best races of the year.”
The Jayhawks began the morning with a momentum-setting performance, chalking up a second-place finish in their First Varsity Eight heat. KU crossed the finish line with a time of 6:44.22, qualifying them for the Grand Finals. Pacing the Jayhawks were seniors Julia Alvey, Jennifer Hartzler, Claudijah Lever and Brooke Thuston, juniors Maggie Duncan and coxswain Mary Slattery and sophomores Maddie Irelan and Lexie Lanphere.
Up next for Kansas was the Second Varsity Eight race where the Jayhawks finished in fourth place with a time of 6:53.49, just six seconds behind first-place Oklahoma. The time puts the 2V8 in Sunday’s Petite Final, while Catloth noted that it was one of the boat’s finest races of the year. KU was powered by senior Alexa Fowlkes, junior Tessa Scott, sophomores Jordan Helms, Olivia Loney, coxswain Kenzie Obrochta and Katherine Young and freshmen BriAnna Dittberner, Ally Fullerton and Kaelyn Thierolf.
Kansas pressed on, placing second in the First Varsity Four and advancing to Sunday’s Grand Final competition. KU finished with a time of 7:33.54, nearly four seconds ahead of West Virginia. Kansas was led by senior Erin Brogan and sophomores Kate Cropp, Madison Hovis, Mackenzie Klaver and coxswain Mallory Miller.
In the Second Varsity Four race, Kansas placed second, qualifying another boat for Sunday’s Grand Finals. KU finished with a time of 7:31.94, just five seconds behind Tennessee. Rowing for KU were senior coxswain Sarah Lasini, juniors Jackie Adamle and Casey Kelly, sophomore Kylee Dewey and freshman Angie Allen.
KU closed out the first day of racing with a strong showing in the Third Varsity Eight. The Jayhawks claimed their first victory of the day, propelling the 3V8 into the Grand Finals with a time of 7:00.41, four seconds ahead of Oklahoma. Leading KU were seniors Kristen Byrd and Allie Griffin, junior coxswain Briana Pina, sophomores Bailey Brandon, Danielle Gibson Brittney Railsback, Emily Ruble and Margret Winter, freshmen Payton Vedders.
The Third Varsity Four competed in an exhibition race, finishing in third place with a time of 8:00.80. The all-freshman boat consisted of coxswain Bailey Coolidge, Caitlin McNulty, Keaton Poppe, Daisy Tackett and Kailey Tennant.
Kansas will need to have another strong showing on Sunday to give itself a chance to qualify for the NCAA Rowing Championships. No. 11 Texas won all five of its heats on Saturday and is looking to knock off two-time defending Big 12 champ, Oklahoma, on Sunday. The Jayhawks have three-straight third-place finishes to their credit and are on the hunt for their first conference title.
“Texas has the upperhand right now,” said Catloth. “Our goal is to medal in as many races as we can tomorrow and have a strong performance.”
Racing will resume on Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m., beginning with the Third Varsity Eight Petite Final. Racing will conclude around 9:40 a.m. with an awards ceremony following. Updates can be found on Twitter @KU_Rowing with full coverage at KUAthletics.com following the competition.
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Complete Kansas Results
First Varsity Eight – 2nd place (6:44.22)
Mary Slattery – Coxswain
First Varsity Four – 2nd place (7:33.54)
Mallory Miller – Coxswain