Conference challenge awaits Rowing
April 26, 2012
Rachel Frey, Texas Media Relations
AUSTIN, Texas -- After one of Texas Rowing’s best finishes last season, including the Big 12 and Conference USA titles, the team has had mixed success so far in 2012. Despite strong performances from the novice boats and the varsity four boats, the varsity eight boats have been “inconsistent,” according to head coach Carie Graves.
At the Longhorn Invitational, the Longhorns won 27 of 32 races and the varsity crews claimed victory in 14 of 16 races during the three-day meet (March 16-18). However, the first varsity eight dropped a race to Oklahoma by seven seconds. UT then traveled to the San Diego Crew Classic where the varsity eight finished fifth, 20 seconds behind the first-place boat, but moved to a third-place finish in UT’s second race.
Following the San Diego Crew Classic, UT recorded its best performance yet at the Lake Natoma Invitational, but as Graves said, “it (was not) as good as I’d have liked to seen it.” In the varsity eight’s first two races at Lake Natoma, they finished 15 seconds behind the winning boat.
Following these races, Graves changed the lineup of the first varsity eight, bringing in four rowers from the second varsity eight boat. After this change, the boat was two seconds faster than the previous day. The lineup she plans to use for the first varsity eight at the Big 12 Championship includes three of the four changes she made at Lake Natoma.
“It is not a lineup that I thought we would ever necessarily see,” Graves said. “The only two seniors we have in there are in the bow pair. It is a young boat, which may have something to do with its inconsistency. It is not so inconsistent anymore. It looked really good in the last two pieces. I feel pretty good about it.”
According to Laurel McCaig, who is rowing in the varsity eight for her third spring season, at the end of practice last Friday, Graves recalled all of UT’s past experiences at the Big 12 Championships, which “so far have been all wins.”
“I think in terms of performance on the water, we have not had the success we had necessarily expected, but I do not think that the season has been a loss,” McCaig said. “We have achieved a lot, but especially as we come up to Big 12 (Championships) we need to match up together and try to get everything we have as individuals and combine it to create something great as a team.”
McCaig attributes the team’s performance to over-thinking their efforts after their success last season.
“I think as we started off the season and did not see the success happen right away. It was hard for people to comprehend what was going on,” McCaig said. “I think it has been hard for people to come back from that and regroup, and feel the confidence we should have because we are doing so well, and we have so much great potential.”
Graves has been impressed so far with the team’s fitness and drive; however, it was not until late last week that she saw the consistency that she felt she had not seen so far this spring.
“I saw people pushing really hard on all of the pieces, and I really felt that there was really for the first time ownership of that boat, and being the varsity boat,” Graves said. “On the row back when they weren’t racing, they just took off.”
The team will compete on Saturday, April 28 in Oklahoma City on the Oklahoma River. This is the fourth year the Big 12 has hosted a championship race, and Texas will go for its fourth consecutive title.
“It is just all that you can put out there,” McCaig said. “I guess it is like that for every race, but this race is just a little different in a way I cannot describe because it is against OU and it is the Big 12 Championship. So, I think this will be a race that everyone is starting fresh with in a sense from the season, because it seems we will leave it behind us and shake it off, because it was not what we expected."