Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rowing: Sooners Sweep Kansas

The University of Oklahoma rowing team swept Kansas and won six of its seven races to cap off the first weekend of the 2013 season at the OU Invitational on the Oklahoma River.

The Sooners hosted the fourth-annual event and welcomed Kansas, Kansas State, Minnesota, Tulsa and UCO to Oklahoma City for 49 races over two days.

The crews battled constant 20-25 mile per hour winds from the northwest that created a cross tailwind. It was a chilly day at the Exchange Boathouse that included occasional rain, but the teams made the best of it on the first weekend of the season.

OU went a perfect 6-0 against Big 12 rival Kansas in the varsity eight, second varsity eight, varsity four, second varsity four, novice eight and second novice eight. OU's novice four finished second to UCO and ahead of Kansas State.

"After a good start to the season yesterday, I was pleased with how we responded today against another good team in some rough weather," OU head coach Leeanne Crain said. "We faced some really good competition this weekend and got a chance to race in challenging conditions. All of our boats gained valuable racing experience and we were able to identify a few key areas to focus on in the next few weeks of training as we prepare for the Longhorn Invitational."

In the varsity eight, the Sooners beat the Jayhawks by 33.97 seconds, the second-largest margin of victory of the weekend. OU finished in 6:43.43, its fastest time in three races and the quickest Oklahoma boat to cross the finish line.

OU's second varsity eight defeated Kansas with a time of 7:00.58 and won by nearly 18 seconds. The Sooners finished 0.41 seconds ahead of their second-place time in Saturday's race against Minnesota.

Both the varsity four and the second varsity four capped off a perfect weekend with wins over Kansas. The varsity four finished in 7:50.50, while the second varsity four crossed the line in 8:02.64. Both crews finished a perfect 3-0 on the weekend, having defeated Tulsa and Minnesota on Saturday.

The first and second novice eights finished off the six-race sweep of Kansas with times of 7:41.29 and 7:43.69, respectively. The second novice eight also defeated KU Saturday, and both races were extremely close. OU won by 0.50 seconds in the first race, while the Sooners prevailed by just 0.45 seconds today.

In the novice four, OU, UCO and Kansas State raced for the third time this weekend. After the Sooners won yesterday's second race, UCO finished first today to claim its second win. Oklahoma finished with a time of 9:08.63.

Despite the rain, wind and cold, the Oklahoma River was lined with fans throughout the weekend, which provided for a great atmosphere for all six teams.

"I want to thank all of our fans for coming out to support us this weekend," Crain said. "They had to endure some frigid temperatures and fierce winds, but that didn't deter them. It was great to have them cheering from the shoreline and their Sooner spirit was a great inspiration to the team."

Minnesota won a total of 15 races, just one more than Oklahoma's 14 victories on the weekend. Kansas claimed seven wins, while Kansas State and Tulsa each won five times. UCO won three races.

The Sooners travel to Austin, Texas for the Longhorn Invitational on March 22-24.

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