Monday, May 6, 2013

Rowing: OU Wins First Big 12 Championship

In just its fifth season as a varsity program, the No. 20 University of Oklahoma rowing team won its first Big 12 Rowing Championship Saturday at Wyandotte County Lake.

The Sooners used wins in the final three races to secure their first conference title in Kansas City, Kan. With victories in three of the six events, it marks the highest number of individual boat Big 12 titles for OU in the history of the event.

OU finished with 136 points, ahead of Texas's 117 points. Kansas came in third overall with 81 points, followed by West Virginia with 75 and Kansas State with 66 points.

"This was truly a total team effort," OU head coach Leeanne Crain said."I'm so proud of our team for their commitment to each other and the 'team-first' approach they've embraced all season, which ultimately led us to this Big 12 title."

Oklahoma posted conference-championship wins in the first and second varsity eights and the varsity four.

OU led the all teams with eight All-Big 12 honorees. Kristin Clift, Meghan Farrell, Nikki Furmanek, Kellie O'Reilly and Carly Schueler were five of the ten members of the First Team All-Big 12. Ivy Brown, Kelsey O'Grady and Emmie Preskitt were named to the Second Team All-Big 12.

The Sooners finished second in the second varsity four and third varsity eight races behind Texas. Kansas won the fourth varsity eight, while OU came in third.

"Congratulations to all the Big 12 teams for some very competitive racing," Crain said.We needed to take it up a notch in the final three events to secure enough points to win the team overall. The first varsity four, second varsity eight and first varsity eight all came through with big wins to cap off an exciting day."

After a third place finish and two second-place finishes in the first three events, Oklahoma found itself with 19 points, five behind first-place Texas. The Sooners narrowed the gap to just three points with a win in the varsity four.

OU took the lead with a dominating win by the second varsity eight, which crossed the line in 6:34.24, 6.90 seconds ahead of Kansas and 11.51 seconds in front of Texas. It was the largest victory margin of any boat and gave the Sooners a 77-73 lead.

The winner of the varsity eight race got 59 points, while the second-place finisher received 50. Oklahoma got out to an early lead and held off a late push by Texas to secure the title. The Sooners finished in 6:28.39 to beat Texas by 2.36 seconds.

The varsity four earned OU's first win of the day with a 7:18.92, nearly two seconds ahead of UT. Kansas got out to an early lead, but the Sooners quickly overtook them and led the rest of the race.

In the second varsity four, the Sooners finished in 7:34.17 in a tightly contested race for second place. A 0.50 margin was all that separated OU from the third-place Jayhawks.

Oklahoma finished second in the third varsity eight with a 6:49.07. Texas was able to fight off the Sooners' late push and finished in 6:46.48.

The first race of the day was the fourth varsity eight, where OU finished third in 6:42.48 and earned three points. It was a very tight race throughout, but Kansas won in 6:41.72 and got five points, followed by Texas with four points. The margin between the three schools was just 0.86 seconds.

"Thanks to the University of Kansas and the Big 12 for hosting another great event and we look forward to bringing the event back to Oklahoma City in 2014." Crain said. "We're excited for the Conference USA Championship in two weeks and the opportunity to race for a bid to the NCAA Championship."

The Sooners return to the water in two weeks for the Conference USA Championship in Oak Ridge, Tenn. With five Big 12 schools sponsoring rowing, the conference is one team shy of an automatic qualifier into the NCAA Championship. The winner of the 11-team C-USA Championship will earn an automatic bid to the national championship.

/// SoonerSports PR
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