For rowers, it is often the case that there is no better feeling than getting back on the water in a competitive situation. In its first racing event of the fall season, the rowing team filled this offseason void by notching three impressive top-five finishes at the Head of the Oklahoma Regatta in Oklahoma City.
The Longhorns entered enemy territory with one goal on their minds: to bring home some quality in-season, on-water experience in preparation of the grueling season that awaits them.
To ensure that it made the most of this experience on the Oklahoma River, the team made sure that it clocked some of the best times of the calendar year. Texas’ first varsity four crew of coxswain Emma Dirks, Jennifer VanderMaarel, Felicia Izaguirre-Werner, Olivia Nail and Karli Sheahan won the women’s collegiate four-plus, finishing with a solid time of 15:15.137.
The second varsity four of coxswain Megan Kelly, Charity McDonald, Laurel McCaig, Jacqueline Gorcyca and Anna Thomson posted third in the fours race, ending up crossing the finish line in 15:32.542. The Longhorns’ third fours boat, consisting of coxswain Emily Lantz, Shelly Beck, Tajana Lovric, Jelena Zunic and Tea Vrtlar, finished eighth with a time of 14:37.281. Finally, Texas’ fourth varsity four crew of coxswain Katie Sayre, Hannah Moon, Jessica Glennie, Devon Clark and Courtney Nicklas notched a time of 16:16.835 and ended up placing 12th out of 32 boats total.
Considered one of the most challenging regatta competitions in the country, the Head of the Oklahoma consists of several twists and turns under bridges near the western edge of the basin before becoming a straightaway halfway through the course at Regatta Park. This last 2,000 meter stretch to the tape at the finish line is where boats have a chance to gain ground on the leaders with a relative large amount of time to do so. In total, the race course is 2-and-half-miles long, but this did not deter the efforts of Texas’ varsity eight boats, who did fairly well at the event as well.
The first varsity eight boat, comprised of coxswain Dirks and stroke McDonald, McCaig, Zunic, Glennie, Gorcyca, Thomson, VanderMaarel and Izaguirre-Werner finished third and clocked a time of 14:12.219. Texas’ second varsity eight crew comprised of coxswain Kelly, stroke Beck, Chelsea Simpson, Lyndsey DuBose, Lovri, Moon, Sheahan, Nail and Nicklas posted a time of 14:37.281 and finished eighth. Lastly, the Longhorns’ third varsity boat of coxswain Lantz, stroke Lauren Lehman, Clark, Margaret Harlow, Vrtlar, Sally Tunell, Jillian Domingue, Natasia Giles and Julia Stevens placed ninth with a time of 14:47.292.
Texas will return to action as a more experienced bunch when it heads back to Austin to compete at the Head of the Colorado on Oct. 30, on Lady Bird Lake.