Graves’ Rowing team shows positive strokes in ‘08
A seventh consecutive Big 12 Invitational win and an improvement by two spots in the Aramark South/Central Region sprints by the Texas Longhorns caused a bounce in the step of Coach Carie Graves as the 2008 season came to an end.
"Revitalized," said Graves of her mood as she already began looking towards next season.
A victory against nationally-ranked Wisconsin and Central Florida, a 2007 NCAA qualifier, during this season gave further reason for the UT coach to feel revitalized. The Longhorns also drenched SMU.
"I feel so much better this year than I did last year," Graves said of her mood in the aftermath of the season. "I think we are much better off this year. I think we have a much better frame of mind and a much better attitude. We have confidence."
The Horns were fifth in the region and 12th overall in the Aramark South/Central Region sprints in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
"That was not (as good a result) as we wanted," Graves said. "But I believe it left a lot of very motivated rowers hungry for better results next year."
Prior to the Aramark South/Central Region sprints, the Longhorns claimed their seventh straight Big 12 Invitational title, winding up nine points ahead of Kansas State.
"It was great for our seniors to win their last home race and the Big 12 Invitational again," Graves said of the event held at Lady Bird Lake.
Coxswain Mary Cait McPherson, stroke Angela Kirchner, Jelena Zunic, Callie Mattrisch, Luise Fleischhauer, Alex Janss, Jen VanderMaarel, Kellie Lundy and Nancy Arrington comprised the first varsity eight, winning their event in the Big 12 Conference Invitational.
The first varsity eight enjoyed a six-race winning streak during the season and the Horns were ranked for the first time in two years when they stood 19th in the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) poll in late March.
"For the varsity, this year was a huge improvement from what we have been able to accomplish during the last three years," Graves said.
The coach had praise for Arrington both for her performance and for the type of person she is.
"And we've got a team full of good people," Graves said.
With all of the plusses 2008 brought to the rowing team, the coach allowed that not reaching the NCAAs was a disappointment.
"We have a solid core of very good rowers returning next year and an outstanding group of recruits arriving in the fall," Graves said. "We've got a team with great athleticism and I am very confident.
"That said, my mandate personally and institutionally is to be in the NCAA Championships. We have made some great strides, but we are not where we want to be."