The West Virginia University rowing team concluded racing at the Notre Dame Invitational, Saturday, with all four of its crews placing in the Petite Finals of their events.
The varsity eight crew comprised of Jenelle Spencer, Hilary Meale, Rachelle Purych, Kelly Kramer, Shannon Gribbons, Danielle Widecrantz, Karen Verwey, Courtney Schrand and coxswain Mallory Fisher opened Saturday's racing by competing in the first heat of its event against Notre Dame and Iowa, ultimately placing third to advance to the Petite Final against Rutgers.
The Mountaineers defeated Rutgers in that final, finishing in first place with a time of 7:11.9.
"The varsity eight did not handle the wind and choppy water well in the morning heat, but responded very well in the afternoon with much better execution," says coach Jimmy King.
Following that performance, the second varsity eight crew of Brittany Doss, Mollie Rosen, Danika Rencken, Rachel Cokeley, Jessica Kelly, Amanda Hirsch, Jessica Hurlbert, Lisa Deklau and coxswain Morgan Leach advanced to the Petite Final of its event, after placing third against Notre Dame and Louisville in the first heat of morning competition.
The crew ultimately fell to Rutgers (7:28.6) in that final, finishing in second place with a time of 7:31.7.
"Our second varsity eight raced very well this morning and continue to build upon the progress they made in the past week," King says. "Their afternoon race was not as clean as in the morning, but it was still a quality effort. We're looking forward to seeing continued progress by this crew."
The varsity four crew comprised of Rebecca Knecht, Brianna Dendler, Elizabeth Duarte, Tamyra Roberts and coxswain Ellen Shular advanced to the Petite Final of its event against Rutgers after placing third during its morning heat against Notre Dame and Iowa.
West Virginia placed first in that final, crossing the line ahead of the Scarlet Knights (8:38.5) with a time of 8:23.2.
"The varsity four was another crew that rowed a subpar race in the morning heat, but then responded in a positive fashion in the final," King says. "Due to a weather delay and subsequently compressed schedule, the varsity fours had the shortest break between races. They did a very good job of refocusing their efforts to finish the day with a solid race."
Lastly, West Virginia's second varsity four crew of Bethany Anne Sapen, Melinda Sharon, Enya Messersmith, Kaitlyn Eason and coxswain Alexandra Basil advanced to the Petite Final after falling to Syracuse during the second heat of morning competition.
The Mountaineers ultimately placed third behind Notre Dame and Iowa in that final, having finished the race in 8:40.9.
"Our second varsity four put together two solid races today," King says. "While neither race was perfect, this crew of novices has been making steady progress throughout the season, often racing above their category.
"We didn't race as well and as consistently as I want to see at this time of year, but all of our crews are clearly striving for continued improvement," continues King. "They realize there's more speed to be gained during the next two weeks leading up to BIG EAST. To fully realize those gains, we'll need to do a very good job in the upcoming week of managing our time and effort during finals."
The Mountaineers will return to action on Sunday, May 13, when they will compete at the 2012 BIG EAST Championships. Racing will take place on Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J.