SARASOTA, Fla. – The Kansas State women’s rowing team earned a bronze medal in the Grand Finals of the Varsity Four race to highlight the final day of competition at the Sunshine State Invitational on Saturday morning (April 3) at Nathan Benderson Park.
In just their second official race of the season, the Wildcats’ bronze medal finish in the Varsity Four race in Saturday’s Grand Finals highlighted a solid two-day performance against a field that included host UCF, Clemson, Jacksonville, Kansas, Miami (Fla.) and Stetson. On Friday, the team collected third-place finishes from the Varsity Four (1v4+) and Varsity Eight (1v8+) boats.
“This weekend was a huge learning opportunity for the coaches and the athletes,” said head coach Patrick Sweeney. “We saw what we need to work on in order to keep moving forward. Looking forward, we plan to make some shifts with lineups. We still have time to make adjustments and make sure we have the strongest combinations possible.”
The Varsity Four, consisting of redshirt senior Logan Frost, sophomore Ellie Hahn, sophomore Elizabeth Sloan, sophomore Kate Odgers and sophomore coxswain Kaitlyn Henke, finished in third place behind host UCF and Clemson with a time of 8:56.43. K-State was one of only three boats to record times less than 9 minutes in the race, as the Wildcats outdistanced fourth-place Kansas by more than 23 seconds.
“The conditions while we were competing were not the best today,” said Sweeney. “The 1v4+ built on the heats from the day before in order to medal. They raced hard and stayed focused on what they needed to do to be successful.”
Senior Logan Frost said that the Varsity Four pushed through the difficult conditions and made the most of the today’s opportunity as they continue to prepare for the Big 12 Championships in May.
“Toward the finish I think we all decided that it was just time to go,” said Frost. “That’s where we improved from yesterday. We sat in there and said, ‘Okay it’s time to go. We’re going to go here. We’re going to go together.’ That’s the biggest leap we took from yesterday. Every race we are learning a little bit each time, so that by Big 12s we’re going to be ready.
“We did the best we could with what we had. The fact that we finished stronger and had a harder race proves the mental growth we’ve taken over the whole season. It feels good to come home with something to prove how hard you worked.”
Despite some elements out of their control, the Varsity Eight collected a time of 8:01.36 to finish in fifth place. The boat, which consisted of sophomore Elizabeth Mummert, junior Marissa Rodriguez, redshirt sophomore Maya Morrow, redshirt freshman Taylor Hartman, redshirt sophomore Madison Jensen, sophomore Megan Michaelis, redshirt freshman Idallis Shaffer and redshirt freshman coxswain Lauren Plum, were less than 6 seconds behind fourth-place Miami.
“The 1v8+ didn’t repeat what they did in the heats,” said Sweeney. “They had a rough start this morning but were able to still be in the race up until the halfway point. Around the 1000 they caught a boat-stopping-crab, which took them out of the race completely. The boat didn’t show their true speed today. We know we can go faster and we’re ready to work back into that speed.”
The Second Varsity Eight, consisting of redshirt senior Natasha Johnson, freshman Kaylee Kleinschmit, freshman Patricia Hokanson, redshirt junior Megan Kelly, freshman Ashley Cass, redshirt freshman Lauren Walker, redshirt freshman Jessica Schenk, freshman Jayden Wert and redshirt freshman coxswain Kelsey Ladlie, placed sixth with a time of 8:31.12.
“The 2v8+ didn’t race to what they are capable of,” said Sweeney. “There is more speed across the board and we’re ready to do what it takes to make sure we get there.”
The Second Varsity Four, consisting of redshirt freshman Lindsey Devreugd, redshirt freshman Alyssa Buettner, redshirt freshman Alyssa Pemberton and redshirt freshman Lisa Zuiderveen and junior coxswain Morgan Thompson, earned a fifth place finish with a time of 9:23.01. The Wildcats were less 4 seconds behind fourth-place Kansas.
“The 2v4+ made progress but they still have a lot of room to grow,” said Sweeney. “Today was more competitive, but we can still be more effective in how we attack.”
K-State will continue its race schedule next weekend, as the Wildcats travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma for the Tulsa Triangular on Saturday, April 10. The regatta will include host Tulsa and Central Oklahoma.
By Tom Gilbert