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Kansas rowers watch their teammates compete against Kansas State at the Sunflower Showdown on Saturday April 28.

In their first competition of the spring season, the Jayhawks’ young second varsity four of freshmen coxswain Danica Pecana, Abby Benedict, Izzy Hauber, Maggie Habben and sophomore Katie Donnellan lead the way for the five competing Jayhawk shells.

Competing at the Cooper Sprints in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on Sunday, the boat of underclassmen, named the Wakarusa, clocked a time of 8:17.83 to clinch a fourth-place finish in the top final, marking the strongest outing on the day by the Kansas squad. The early impressive performance by young athletes bodes well for the upcoming season for the Jayhawks.

"10 of our 37 athletes raced their first and second ever 2K races on the water today,” coach Carrie Cook-Callen said according to a Kansas Athletics press release. “An additional four raced their first collegiate 2K's today. Overall, that young group did well, but will be much better prepared as we move forward in our spring racing schedule."

Aside from the fourth-place grand final finish of the Wakarusa, three Kansas boats claimed top-four finishes in the petite finals, with the first varsity eight Wave the Wheat recording a third place finish with a time of 6:45.02. The third varsity eight, dubbed Quiet Beast, and the first varsity four, the Oread, both knotted fourth-place petite final finishes. 

"Our top boats raced the heats a bit tentative, but gained some valuable experience in doing so,” Cook-Callen said. “Both came out racing better in the finals. The 3V8 had trouble getting a clean start after clashing oars with Rutgers in their final, which put them into a bit of a panic and behind to begin their race." 

Looking ahead, the Jayhawks will return to the water April 5-6 in Sarasota, Florida, at the Sunshine State Invite, ideally on the heels of much more practice time on the water, Cook-Callen explained.

“We know as we get more time on the water things will continue to come together,” Cook-Callen said. “This group is working hard and will make some big jumps in execution and technique to gain speed as we prepare for Sarasota in two weeks.”