MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – The West Virginia University rowing team earned a first-place finish in its flight during the women’s novice four event, Sunday, at the Occoquan Sprints on the Occoquan Reservoir in Fairfax Station, Va.
The crew of Bethany Sapen, Melinda Sharon
, Enya Messersmith
, Kaitlyn Eason
and coxswain Caitlin Madamba
advanced from third place to first place during the last 500 meters of racing to earn its first win of the season and the best result of the day for the Mountaineers.
Additionally, their time of 8:12.60 was the second-fastest overall time among the eighteen crews that participated in women’s novice four competition.
“This group is naturally positive, willing, motivated and hard working, so I am not surprised by their success on Sunday,” says associate head coach Tina Griffith. “When racing among comparable talent, these traits make a huge difference in the outcome."
Following this performance, the varsity four crew of Sarah Hansard
, Tamyra Roberts
, Rebecca Knecht
, Brianna Dendler
and coxswain Sarah Cartwright
raced to a fourth-place finish in its flight, crossing the line in 7:56.28.
In just its second outing this season, the crew posted the seventh-fastest time out of 21 crews overall.
During the women’s second varsity eight event, the crew of Brittany Doss
, Mollie Rosen
, Danicka Rencken, Rachel Cokeley
, Jessica Kelly
, Amanda Hirsch
, Elizabeth Duarte
, Lisa Deklau
and coxswain Ellen Shular
found itself placed in a preliminary heat that provided a rematch with North Carolina.
The team raced to a fourth-place finish in that heat, advancing to the Petite Final where it would ultimately finish second to La Salle (7:27.70) after crossing the line in 7:28.35.
“Our second varsity eight also deserves some recognition,” says head coach Jimmy King. “They worked diligently during the past week to make significant technical improvements that were clearly evident in Sunday's racing.”
In the last event of the day, the women’s varsity eight comprised of Hilary Meale
, Danielle Widecrantz
, Jenelle Spencer
, Shannon Gribbons
, Kelly Kramer
, Jessica Hurlbert
, Rachelle Purych
, Courtney Schrand
and coxswain Mallory Fisher
advanced to the Grand Final for the second consecutive year, ultimately placing sixth with a time of 7:01.60.
"Although we're reluctant to admit it, our crews were tired,” King says. “The residual fatigue from the previous week's training camp was present in everyone, but very evident in the racing of our varsity eights during their second races of the day. From a technical perspective those crews in particular did a great job in their finals of maintaining the skills they worked on throughout the previous week.
“While the racing was a bit flat, we're confident everyone will bounce back as we resume a normal training schedule and work towards the Knecht Cup Regatta in two weeks," says King.
The Mountaineers return to action on Saturday, April 14 and Sunday, April 15 to compete at the Knecht Cup Regatta, which is set to take place on the Cooper River in Cherry Hill, N.J.