Season of Progress for Wildcat Rowers in 2002
June 13, 2002
MANHATTAN, Kan. - It's one thing to measure progress in terms of times in the sport of rowing. It's quite another to measure performance in terms of catching up with the competition.
In the 2002 season, the Kansas State rowing program did both.
Posting some of the best marks in the six-year history of the program, the Wildcats were able to show progress in their attempt to become one of the best programs in the nation. In addition, head coach Jenny Hale said the K-State rowers are cutting the margins of deficits against some of the competition that she and the Wildcats need to catch in order to reach the next level.
"Speed-wise, we're going as fast as we've ever gone," said Hale, who has coached the Wildcats throughout the six-year tenure of the program at the varsity level. "But everyone else is achieving better times, also.
"The margin by which we've lost is significantly smaller than in previous years," she added. "That's one of the big points I've seen from this year. Against Iowa, for example, instead of losing by eight to nine seconds, we lost by less than two.
"It's very hard to see progress when you're just looking at a win-loss record. But when you look at times and margins over the previous five years, there's no doubt we had a good year."
One particular highlight of the season for Kansas State rowing was earning enough national attention and respect to earn votes in the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association poll of April 3. After defeating Clemson in the final race of the Longhorn Invitational, the Wildcats received mention in the poll for the first time in the history of the program.
K-State's win over Clemson in late March was also a highlight, according to Hale. After losing to host Texas, the Wildcats' varsity eight swept dual races with SMU, Tulsa and Clemson to finish the Longhorn Invitational.
The Wildcat varsity eight had a number of races this spring in which it covered the standard 2,000-meter course in less than 6 minutes, 50 seconds. Although course conditions vary greatly in terms of current and wind directions, times under the 6:50 range are significant in the Wildcats' climb to one of the top teams in the region and the nation.
"It's phenomenal how the level of competition has changed in the last six years," said Hale. "There have been 20 schools or so added in the last six years. It's made it hard to gauge sometimes whether we're moving ahead.
"What we shared with the team at the end of the season is that internally, we know we are getting faster, but externally in terms of wins and losses, it is much harder to see progress. We feel good about the season, though."
K-State's varsity eight also placed fourth in the Cal Cup grand final at the San Diego Crew Classic, beat Kansas in the Kansas Cup regatta and placed second at the Big 12 Invitational in Austin. The Wildcats tied KU for second place in the point standings at the Big 12 Invitational.
Kansas State closed its season by finishing fifth in the petite final at the NCAA Central Sprints held in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Other boats also made some progress, according to Hale. She pointed to the season-best mark turned in by the varsity four in the final race of the year at the Central Sprints event.
"Seeing the varsity four at the end of the season row as fast as they ever have, with two seniors, two freshmen and a brand new coxswain, that was a great way to see some of those rowers end their careers," said Hale.
Individually, Hale mentioned senior Glenna Yokum as a Wildcat who had something of a breakthrough season. Yokum was voted as the Most Valuable Athlete of the season in balloting by her teammates.
"For her size, making the varsity eight in the most competitive year we've had was great," said Hale. "She's not a big person in what has become a big-person sport. Glenna's pulling power helped her make the varsity boat, and her determination to make the technical changes we asked her to make kept her in the boat. She's somebody who really tapped her athletic potential."
In addition, two Wildcats earned All-Central Region honors in voting by the coaches. Junior Katy Bockelman was a first-team selection, while senior Josie McClellan was voted onto the second team.
Junior Alyssa Adams earned a National Scholar-Athlete Award from the CRCA, given to student-athletes with grade-point averages above 3.50. Adams, a port-side rower from Newark, Del., has a 3.55 in architectural engineering at K-State.
Bockelman and Adams are two juniors from the 2002 team who Hale will count upon for senior leadership in the coming year.
"We're extremely positive and excited about next year," said Hale. "We have a strong senior class coming up and I think they are pretty fired up. We should see excellent leadership from that group."