The West Virginia rowing team will be competing in their first tournament Saturday in the Head of the Ohio regatta. Head coach Jimmy King and his team will be making the trip to Pittsburgh for the highly competitive regatta.

The 27th annual HOTO Regatta will be hosted by the Three Rivers Rowing Association and will feature more than 2,000 athletes. The Mountaineers will be racing Open 1x, Open 2x (2), Open 8+ (3) and Open 4+ (4).

“The Head of the Ohio occurs very early in the season for us; we’ve only been on the water for two weeks so it serves as a starting point of sorts for the year ahead,” King said.

With WVU only beginning their practices a couple of weeks ago, King and his squad are focused on one thing going into the weekend’s race: progress.

“We’ll work to see notable progress in technique, mindset and of course speed from race to race,” he said. “We’ll face significant competition at the last race of the fall season, so we’ll definitely be looking for more than just progress; we’ll be looking for results.”

However, until the last race at the Rivanna Romp, King said he keeps reminding himself where they are as a team right now and where they will be heading.

“I’ve already reminded myself and the team about where we started last fall and where we ended up last spring in that regard, but it’s all good. Everyone is working to make improvements, and we’ll see notable improvements as we progress through the fall,” he said.

WVU knows with so many athletes and schools competing, the goal is not to win but to improve in all aspects. King stressed the importance of carrying over what they’ve been doing in practice in the Monongahela River and bringing it to the Ohio and Allegheny Rivers Saturday.

“The regatta is a bit less about expectations and more about discovery – discovery of our areas of strength, areas of weakness and about our team depth,” he said.

Races on the 2.6-mile course will begin at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and last all day. The Mountaineers will be competing in races in the early morning as well as late in the afternoon.