MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University rowing team is set to compete for an automatic qualifying spot for the NCAA Championship on Saturday, April 18, at the Conference USA Rowing Championship held on Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
This is the fourth annual C-USA Rowing Championship, and first that will provide the champion an automatic berth to the NCAA Rowing Championship.
“Now that finals are complete and the team has been able to catch-up on some much needed rest, we are looking for peak performances from each crew,” said coach Jimmy King. “We are expecting season-best performances in execution, as well as speed.”
Preliminary heats, beginning with varsity eight races, are scheduled to start at 9 a.m., on the 2,000-meter course.
Saturday’s competition will mark the second time this season that the Mountaineers have competed on Melton Hill Lake, as they participated in the season-opening Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational on March 16-17.
“Competing at the venue previously doesn’t provide much of an advantage for us,” King says. “But, it does better prepare our crews for this weekend's competition which is why we made sure to race at Melton Hill Lake earlier this season.”
At the Big 12 Championship held on May 4 in Kansas City, WVU placed fourth by earning 75 team points. Finishing ahead were Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas, in that respective order.
The Mountaineers’ first varsity eight crew of Rachelle Purych
, Danielle Widecrantz
, Kelly Kramer
, Lisa Deklau
, Liz Kantak
, Jessica Hurlbert
, Karen Verwey
, Courtney Schrand
and coxswain Mallory Fisher
crossed the finish line in third place, a spot higher than its seed of fourth.
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
finished the race fourth, a spot higher than its seed of fifth.
In the first varsity four competition, the crew of Enya Messersmith
, Allison Coates
, Susannah Hartlove
, Rachel Cokeley
and coxswain Morgan Leach
finished fifth, while the second varsity four crew of Kimberlie May
, Danika Rencken
, Kaitlyn Eason
, Sarah Taylor
and coxswain Sarah Dodd
Lastly, the third varsity eight crew of Tiffany Hatcher
, Angelica Fell
, Allyson Pytlak
, Addie Dulaney
, Kendra Welker
, Mary Cook
, Summer Socha
, Caroline Mullins
and coxswain Alexandra Basil
raced to a fifth-place finish.
“Like each of the other Big 12 schools, we're striving to improve upon our performances relative to each other, and where possible, overtake those who finished ahead of us,” King says. “We have a much improved team this season, and regardless of how we finish this weekend, these student-athletes have much of which to be proud.”
The Mountaineers hold seeds of fourth in the first varsity eight, fifth in the second varsity eight and 10th in the first varsity four.
The Big 12 Champion Sooners hold the top seed in each event.
C-USA will determine the team champion based on placement in varsity eight, second varsity eight and varsity four races, with team and individual awards will be presented at a ceremony following the regatta.
In total, 11 teams are competing this weekend. C-USA has three full-time members that sponsor women's rowing: SMU, Tulsa and UCF. Eight additional programs serve as affiliate members in the league championship: Alabama, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Old Dominion, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. Host Tennessee won the team titles in 2010 and 2012, while Texas was the 2011 team champion.