MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University rowing team is set to compete at the 2013 Big 12 Championship, Saturday, on the Wyandotte County Lake in Kansas City, Kan. It will be the program’s first time competing in the Big 12 Championship.
"Preparing for the Big 12 Championship is a bit tricky because we have to balance setting our crews up for a strong performance this weekend," said coach Jimmy King. "Then, we have to set them up for an even stronger performance two weeks later when a NCAA automatic qualifier spot is on the line.
"Weather might be a factor at the championship. Kansas City has been experiencing unusually cold temperatures as well as periods of sleet and snow. Temps were in the low 30s during this morning's row with windchills in the 20s. Winds are forecast to increase this afternoon, but the outlook for Saturday is a bit improved."
The Mountaineers are set to line up against four other Big 12 schools on Sunday, including Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma and Texas.
"We go to the championship having competed only against Kansas and that was indirectly at the Knecht Cup Regatta three weeks ago," King said. "Oklahoma has established that they are the top team in the conference and are ranked 20th nationally. Texas is the defending champion and Kansas has demonstrated they have more team depth and speed than we. As for Kansas State, they did race Kansas earlier in the season, but those results are not very helpful to us in gauging their speed at this point in time. The question is where do we fall among the four other schools?"
WVU has five entries in this weekend’s regatta, as it will compete in the first varsity eight, second varsity eight, first varsity four, second varsity four and the third varsity eight races.
Three of West Virginia’s crews have been seeded – the first varsity eight, the second varsity eight and the first varsity four. The third varsity eight and second varsity four are entered in random draw races.
"We aren't seeded highly in any event, so one of our performance goals will be to place higher than seeded in the NCAA events - first varsity eight, second varsity eight and first varsity four," King said. "To do so, however, we'll need season-best performances from each crew. Given the caliber of competition among the five schools, there is little margin for error."
Last year, at the Big East Championship, the Mountaineers saw the first varsity eight earn a second-place finish in the Petite Final, while the second varsity eight placed second in its Petite Final.
The first varsity four also earned a second-place finish in its Petite Final, with the second varsity four finishing fourth in its respective final.
The team ended the regatta with 54 points for a seventh-place finish overall.
Texas, which has won the four previous Big 12 Championships, is looking to earn its fifth consecutive Big 12 title, after it registered 105 points to best host Oklahoma (104 points) in the closest finish in league history at the 2012 championship regatta.
In a double dual regatta against Bucknell, Connecticut and Delaware last weekend, the Mountaineers registered five first-place finishes. Furthermore, the second varsity eight crew of Bethany Anne Sapen
, Melinda Sharon
, Mollie Rosen
, Tamyra Roberts
, Hilary Meale
, Mary Ignatiadis
, Jeannine McCarty
, Elizabeth Duarte
and coxswain Ellen Shular
earned Conference USA Boat of the Week honors.
Live updates and results can be found by clicking here
A full recap following the day’s events will be available on WVUsports.com.