Heading into the fall-opener Saturday, it’s all about progress for West Virginia University head coach Jimmy King and the WVU rowing team.

WVU’s team needs to adapt very early into the season to be successful. "The novices from the past year are still on a steep learning curve, and the first-years also are adapting to training at a higher level."

"Fall racing allows us to take stock of how we’re progressing at that point in our training," King said.

It also allows King to try different lineups and combinations to throw at the competition along with adapting to approaches other teams will make that will benefit the team. No matter what is thrown at West Virginia’s team, the rowers come ready to race.

Unlike previous years, WVU has a very small senior class. This allows the underclassmen to get their chance to prove what they can bring to this team. King proclaims this gives the team "greater opportunities and greater expectations" to be ready to go out and compete to the highest level that they can this year.

One of those younger members who is ready to make an impact on the team is freshman Madison Hryanda.

"I expect to jump into competitions and make an impact. I want (the team’s) standards to rise, and I want to rank higher at the Big 12 Championship," she said.

WVU starts the season with the always-important Head of Ohio regatta in Pittsburgh, which gives Hryanda a slight advantage. Being Pittsburgh born and a former Three Rivers Rowing team member means the race on Saturday is home for her. Calling it her "home course," Hryanda said she was very fortunate to race there for her five years on Three Rivers’ team, and that she is "privileged" to be back to race there again.

The team will turn to elected captain Louisa Morgan, a junior from Blenheim, New Zealand, to help lead this team to success. Along with Morgan, the five seniors Alison Coates, Susannah Hartlove, Britany James, Sadie Kalathunkal and Elizabeth Kantak will bring experience and leadership to the table for the Mountaineers.

The Mountaineers will try to look for a better season after finishing the spring season fifth overall in the Big 12 Championship.

The highly competitive Head of Ohio is set for 8 a.m. Saturday in Pittsburgh.