The West Virginia rowing team competed in the two-day Knecht Cup Regatta this past weekend in West Windsor Township, N.J. Although the team didn’t come up with as many top finishes as they hoped for, the women’s Second Varsity Eight boat won the Petite Final on Sunday afternoon, claiming a gold medal and West Virginia’s only first-place finish at the competition.
The weather in New Jersey and the water conditions on Lake Mercer caused day one of the competition to begin later than expected Saturday evening.
“It was very windy on Saturday which caused the water to be very rough,” said junior Sue Hartlove. “The racing was suspended until the evening and semifinals were pushed to Sunday. There was a very strong tailwind so we had to be aware of the conditions while racing.”
Day two of the Cup provided improved weather conditions allowing for much better competition.
“Thankfully, there were much better racing conditions on day two, allowing us to get a better sense of how our training is going,” said fourth-year rower Mindy Sharon.
“Day two was a tight battle against all crews across the board. The First Varsity Eight placed fifth in the third final, while the Second Varsity Eight placed first in the petite final. Although we always want to go out with a win in the grand finals, both boats made progress towards our end goal: Making the boats as fast as possible for the Big 12 Championships.”
The women’s First Varsity Eight finished second in its heat on day one of competition with a time of 6:47.73. It also claimed fifth place on day two in their semifinal round, earning a spot in the Third Final with a time of 6:58.44. The Third Final concluded with the Mountaineers finishing fifth with a time of 7:09.94.
The women’s Second Varsity Eight, the boat that captured the gold medal in the petite final, finished with a time of 7:02.19. West Virginia barely eclipsed Alabama’s boat by a mere .77 seconds, and ultimately finished with the Mountaineers’ top performance of the Knecht Cup.
The women’s Third Varsity posted a time of (7:33.29) in the very first race of the competition for West Virginia, ending its run at the Cup early on.
“We learned a lot about our racing style this weekend throughout all of the races,” Sharon said. “We had a strong, competitive mindset that helped us push through a long day two. We’ve been plagued by injuries and illness this year, but we’ve managed to keep moving forward in the right direction. Not only have the rowers been working to improve, but so have the coxswains, and they deserve a lot of credit.”
“We did not end up with the outcome we were looking for, but we improved throughout the weekend and we know what we have to work on when we get back to the Mon. We did well improving technically as the races went on,” Hartlove said.
The Mountaineers will be back in action Sunday at home on the Monongahela River for a scrimmage against Duquesne.