The West Virginia University rowing team concluded racing at the Knecht Cup, Sunday, with all four crews advancing to the finals for just the fourth time in program history.
"Racing was highly competitive throughout this year's regatta and coupled with the opportunity to go to the line three times this weekend, our crews gained valuable racing experience," says coach Jimmy King.
The novice four crew comprised of Bethany Anne Sapen, Melinda Sharon, Enya Messersmith, Kaitlyn Eason and coxswain Alexandra Basil paved the way for the Mountaineers, having advanced to the Grand Final of their event for the second consecutive year.
The Mountaineers raced against Duquesne ‘A', Villanova ‘A', Fairfield, Old Dominion and Delaware, ultimately finishing in sixth place after crossing the line in 8:34.05. With that performance, the crew ended weekend competition sixth out of 47 crews overall.
"The Novice 4+ cruised through their heat and semi and certainly enjoyed a bit of the luck of the draw in that unseeded event," King says. "Despite being overmatched by some faster crews in the final, they again demonstrated that a great attitude and fantastic effort are important in maximizing your success."
Following the novice four, the varsity eight crew of Hilary Meale, Jenelle Spencer, Rachelle Purych, Danielle Widecrantz, Kelly Kramer, Shannon Gribbons, Karen Verwey, Courtney Schrand and coxswain Mallory Fisher advanced to the Petite Final where they faced Old Dominion, Miami, Temple, Drexel and George Mason. West Virginia raced to a fourth-place finish, posting a time of 6:42.72. Their performance was good enough for a 10th-place finish out of a total 31 entries.
"The Varsity 8+ was our most consistent performer throughout the regatta," says King. "They are just now finding their rhythm and put together complete races from start to finish for the first time this season."
Additionally, the varsity four and second varsity eight crews advanced to the Third Final in their respective events.
The second varsity eight crew comprised of Jessica Hurlbert, Mollie Rosen, Elizabeth Duarte, Rachel Cokeley, Jessica Kelly,Amanda Hirsch, Danika Rencken, Lisa Deklau and coxswain Ellen Shular raced against Connecticut, Old Dominion, North Carolina, Miami and New Hampshire, and finished in fifth place with a time of 7:16.68. The crew finished 17th out of 28 entries overall.
"Our Second Varsity 8+ continues to show glimpses of good speed," says King. "They have some technical issues to resolve and if they do so, they'll be rewarded with the speed that lies within them. We'll keep working earnestly for continued improvement so that we're at our best by the season's end."
Lastly, the varsity four crew of Sarah Hansard, Tamyra Roberts, Rebecca Knecht, Brianna Dendler and coxswain Sarah Cartwright finished first in their final, defeating Army, Connecticut, Buffalo, Rutgers and Temple. With a time of 8:01.28, the crew ultimately finished 13th out of 35 entries.
"The Varsity 4+ had a breakthrough performance in their Sunday final," King says. "They raced with a genuinely hard, consistent effort from start to finish; something that had been lacking in earlier races. If they bring that attitude and effort into training as well as racing the remainder of the season, they will be a much improved crew."
The Mountaineers return to action on Saturday, April 21, when they will play host to Dayton in just the third home spring race in program history. Racing will take place on the Monongahela River in Star City.