Kansas rowing began its 2018 spring season on Saturday, hosting the Big 12 Double Dual at Wyandotte County Lake in Kansas City, Kansas. The Jayhawks competed against the Alabama Crimson Tide and Tennessee Volunteers during the four hour meet, which was condensed due to cold weather in the morning.
Although coming up short in all but one of their 10 heats, the Jayhawks impressively finished within five seconds of first place in five heats, fueling numerous comebacks and tight finishes.
“We definitely have a few things we know we want to work on right away, but the team did a really good job of racing to who they are at this point in the season,” said Kansas coach Carrie Cook-Callen.
After starting the day finishing one second behind Alabama in back-to-back first and second varsity eight heats, at 6:37.46 and 6:48.75, respectively, the Jayhawks struggled in their following three heats against the Crimson Tide. Both of Kansas' varsity four boats as well as the third varsity eight boat came in behind Alabama's boats to finish out the first half of the dual.
However, Kansas continued to heat up throughout the cold afternoon, starting again within striking distance of its opponents, finishing no more than five seconds behind Tennessee in its first and second varsity eights.
Yet, the day was headlined by the first victorious heat of Kansas' season, with a come-from-behind finish by the second varsity four boat at 7:43.90, inching out the Volunteers by 1.7 seconds.
“Every time I looked over we were closer and closer… we were just creeping up on them as we kept going through the race,” said freshman coxswain Liana Ochoa. “I was even with their coxswain and I think that was the motivation [the Jayhawks] needed to just go.”
While that victory was sandwiched by two more second place finishes, with the first varsity fours and third varsity eights finishing in 7:44.19 and 7.24.90, respectively, the entire meet showcased the Jayhawks’ continuous ability to fight regardless of outcome.
“Coming out being hungry and not being passive has been what we’ve talked about coming into this weekend,” Cook-Callen said. “It was definitely intentional and it’s very true to who they are.”
Looking forward, the busy April for the Jayhawks continues with three consecutive weeks of races.
“I think it’s a lot of small stuff that we have to work on now,” said junior Peyton Anderson. “Working on that, putting it together, just to go all the way.”
Next weekend, the team looks to continue its improvement during the Knecht Cup in Windsor, New Jersey, followed by another east coast trip the following Sunday with the George Mason Invite. The Jayhawks close their tumultuous month back in Kansas City with the Sunflower Showdown.
“They’re eager and hungry to go back to work and see what we can accomplish in a week for next Saturday,” Cook-Callen said. “But [it] will be really important for us to kind of figure out what our identity is, how we make small shifts and how we just enjoy the sport of racing and the part of the season that we’re in.”
— Edited by Britt Redmond