Rowing falls in Sunflower Showdown to Kansas

K-State teammates celebrate after a race during the Sunflower Showdown on Saturday. (Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State rowing team lost the Sunflower Showdown to Kansas on Saturday, with Kansas winning the event based on points, 15-5, after the two teams split race victories 2-2.

The Jayhawks won the first varsity eight and second varsity eight races, worth nine and six points respectively, while the Wildcats won the first varsity four and second varsity four races, worth three and two points.

“Today, I think was really a mixed bag,” head coach Pat Sweeney said in an interview with K-State Athletics. “We’ve had strong training with our young team, but our weakness today was that we had too many technical errors. The 1v8 didn’t hear the start and got dropped by a half a length and it stayed that way until the finish.”

The first varsity eight lost by 3.8 seconds, some of that a result of the delayed start from the team. The first varsity four got off to a fast start, something the team practiced. The team held on to the lead, winning the race by 16.6 seconds.

“We’ve been really practicing our starts,” redshirt senior Logan Frost said. “We’ve always been a team that wins in the middle of the race, but we wanted to win from the start. We wanted to be ahead from the start, so this race was just to copy and paste from what we’ve been doing at practice. We got those first five strokes, and we were ahead — just that inch ahead — and tore into more. We did that the whole race and then by the end, it was water. It was a full length of water, so it was a really good race.”

Redshirt sophomore coxswain Kylee Stec led an all-underclassmen second varsity four team to a first-place finish, beating KU by six seconds.

Even with a loss, the second varsity eight team saw growth as a unit. The team features two redshirt freshmen, four true freshmen and a redshirt freshman coxswain.

“I think the race went really well,” redshirt junior Megan Kelly said. “It’s probably one of our better races that we’ve done. The start was a little iffy, but we came back and we were holding with KU for quite a bit. It felt good, the ratio was good. The wind was a little crappy, but other than that, everything was good. Our bow is pretty young, but I think we’ve made a lot of improvements and we finished really well.”

Sweeney said the teams “really beat themselves” with mistakes on technique, while he praised the physicalness of the groups while on Wyandotte County Lake.

Though an overall loss on the day, all teams competed at a high level and made strides as a group with the Big 12 Championships coming up on Sunday, May 16. The final meet of the 2020-21 season takes place at Decker Lake in Austin, Texas.