OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – No. 11 Texas Rowing swept all five grand finals to capture its fifth Big 12 crown and earn the program's first ever NCAA Championships team berth Sunday at the 2015 Big 12 Championship on Melton Hill Lake.
Texas claimed the league title with 137 points while Oklahoma took second with 107 points. Kansas State placed third with 89 points and Kansas held fourth at 80 points. West Virginia rounded out the standings in fifth at 52 points.
"We're pleased," said first-year head coach Dave O'Neill. "We were looking in from the beginning at what was in store, wondering if we could we get the team to the NCAA Championships in this first year. Things started to come together toward the end of the fall, and we realized we could get this done."
Separate team standings were compiled to determined the league's automatic qualifier for the NCAA Championships, and Texas came out on top with 48 points.
"We're happy to be going to the NCAA Championships," O'Neill added. "We just talked to the second eights and told them this will be the first time for Texas Rowing to score some points in the (NACDA) Director's Cup. So, yes, it means a lot to go to the NCAA Championships as a team, and means a lot to win the Big 12 Championship. There a lot of great coaches, crews and programs in this league."
Texas Rowing becomes the seventh University of Texas program to capture a Big 12 Championship during the 2014-15 season, joining Volleyball, Men's Swimming and Diving, Women's Swimming and Diving, Women's Indoor Track and Field, Men's Indoor Track and Field and Men's Golf. The title also was the 100th Big 12 postseason championship for The University of Texas.
The sixth annual Big 12 Championship regatta consisted of 2,000-meter racing across six lanes in five different races, three of which are contested at the NCAA Championships.
UT's third varsity eight boat set the tone for a dominant day of racing for the Longhorns, who won all five grand finals races by convincing open water margins. The 3V8 gave Texas its first win of the day in 7 minutes, 0.18 seconds. Oklahoma took second in 7:15.87. The Texas boat featured coxswain Shannon Barry, Devon Erickson, Brooke Dowd, Schuyler Gilmour, Hanna Hinton, Emma Whalen, Jessica Glennie, Victoria Martinez and Lauren Edwards.
"There were a couple seniors there on that third eight, and we wanted to send them out on a high note" O'Neill said. "They've been coming along, andMara Allen's been doing a great job getting them going. They stepped up and set the tone right away today."
The second varsity four boat engaged in a tight battle early on before pulling away to open water, as coxswain Teresa Nguyen, Sara Walton, Sarah Cadman and Lauren Nail claimed the win in 7:42.14. Kansas took second at 7:51.18.
"That second four…just looking at the times from yesterday, we looked at that to be a good race," O'Neill said. "They were pretty nervous heading into it, and then for them to be down in the first half of that race to Tennessee. We tell them to do their thing and focus on Texas. They kept it internal, kept plugging and got themselves an open water win."
The varsity four followed the lead of the second four and left little to chance in the back half of the race, as coxswain Emily Walker, Rachel Fleming, Natalie Guzikowski, Allyson Hite and Carmen Hargis-Villanueva took the win in 7:35.40. Oklahoma took second in 7:47.35 while Kansas placed third at 7:52.19.
The second varsity eight boat withstood an early challenge from Tennessee, and like the three Texas boats before it, the Horns claimed the win handily and clocked 6:52.18. Tennessee settled for second at 7:02.45. The Texas boat featured coxswain Kenna Harris, Sofia Arend, Victoria Bartell, Victoria Bujala, Rachel Smith, Melanie Eckert, Angela Bumstead, Jessica Smith and Sara Neaves.
Texas capped its tremendous day of championship racing with another convincing win, as UT's varsity eight completed the five-race sweep and navigated the 2,000-meter course in 6:31.16. Oklahoma took second in 6:47.26 while Kansas State placed third at 6:54.27. The Texas boat included coxswain Katie Betsill, Casey Redman, Kim Gorcyca, Pippa Loveard, Nadja Hyson, Emily Froehlich, Gia Doonan, April Brown and Katie Trovato. Betsill, Loveard, Hyson, Froehlich, Doonan and Trovato all landed spots on the All-Big 12 Rowing Team following the regatta.
"The three NCAA (Championship) crews got the job done," O'Neill added. "We have this internal competition within the team in terms of meeting certain time standards. I think everyone came off the water a little nervous, like their times weren't fast, but there was a bit of a headwind and we found out there was a bit of a reverse current going out there. The times were a little bit slow compared to what I think we were looking for, but I think everyone breathed a sigh of relief."
The 22-team NCAA Championships, which feature 11 automatic qualifiers and 11 at-large bid recipients, are set for May 29-31 in Gold River, California on Lake Natoma.
2015 Big 12 Championships – Day 2 Finals
Varsity Eight Grand Final
1 Texas, 6:31.16
2 Oklahoma, 6:47.26
3 Kansas State, 6:54.27
4 Tennessee, 6:57.53
Second Varsity Eight Grand Final
1 Texas, 6:52.18
2 Tennessee, 7:02.45
3 Kansas State, 7:04.93
4 Alabama, 7:06.80
5 Oklahoma, 7:09.63
6 West Virginia, 7:17.16
Varsity Four Grand Final
1 Texas, 7:35.40
2 Oklahoma, 7:47.35
3 Kansas, 7:52.19
4 Tennessee, 7:57.81
5 West Virginia, 7:58.13
6 Alabama, 8:02.54
Second Varsity Four Grand Final
1 Texas, 7:42.14
2 Kansas, 7:51.18
3 Tennessee, 7:53.85
4 Oklahoma, 8:01.17
5 Kansas State, 8:06.04
6 Alabama, 8:09.13
Third Varsity Eight Grand Final
1 Texas, 7:00.18
2 Oklahoma, 7:15.87
3 Kansas, 7:21.90
4 Alabama, 7:29.10
5 Kansas State, 7:33.08
6 Tennessee, 7:47.04