March 18, 2012
OAK RIDGE, Tenn. - The Louisville rowing team opened the spring season with a busy day one of the Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational on Saturday. The Cardinals competed in morning and afternoon races earning multiple wins while also competing well against No. 1 ranked Virginia.
In morning action, the Cardinals' second varsity eight boat finished with a time of 6:43.90 on the 2,000-meter course to defeat Duke (6:51.03) and Dayton (7:01.11), while Louisville's varsity eight boat had a time of 6:30.80 to finish clear of Duke (6:35.32) and Dayton (6:48.96). In a varsity four race, Louisville had a time of 8:04.52 to trail Duke's time of 7:36.60.
"The girls came off the water feeling very good about their races this morning," said Louisville rowing head coach Laura Aubrey. "We really wanted to focus on the middle 1,300 meters of the race for this first race of the season, as this is the area that we have trained the most and the hardest the last several months."
The Cardinals' second varsity eight found themselves a bit behind out of the blocks, but held on by putting up a great fight through the 700-meter mark. Through the 1000-meter mark, they held strong and started to reel Duke back in before taking the lead as they passed the 1200-meter mark. For the next 250 meters, the Cardinals were able to build the lead to open water and marched solidly through the finish line with a seven-second advantage over Duke and a 17-second win over Dayton.
"The second varsity eight crew raced a very mature race and a very aggressive race," Aubrey said. "They accomplished the goals we set out to do and I am very proud of their efforts. This is going to be a fun boat and one that I expect to gain considerable speed throughout the rest of the season. They are a very focused group of ladies and have high expectations of themselves and what they believe they can and will accomplish."
Louisville's varsity eight crew had a very similar race to the second varsity eight where they found themselves a few seats down in the first 400 meters. Despite trailing by approximately four seats through the 1300-meter mark, the Cardinals stuck to the plan and were able to make considerable gains in the final 700 meters of the race to earn the 4.5-second win over Duke and the 18-second win over Dayton.
"I was pleased with the race of our varsity eight boat,' said Aubrey. "They are showing solid speed and great consistency in their efforts. We all felt very pleased with our races and we're excited to see what gains we can make through the rest of the race weekend."
In afternoon action, the Cardinals' varsity eight boat finished with a time of 6:30.93 to trail No. 1 ranked Virginia (6:18.10) while defeating Jacksonville (7:06.71).
"We had a solid race against Virginia in both the varsity eight and second varsity eight," said Aubrey. "We were hoping to finish under 6:30 in the varsity eight and 6:40 in the second varsity eight but we came up just a bit shy in both boats. We matched our exact times in the afternoon as we did in the morning, despite not having a crew around us, so I am pleased with their effort.
"I think there is a lot to be gained from lining up against a crew like Virginia. You always want your competition to bring out the best in you and there's nothing like lining up against the No. 1 ranked team in the country to bring out your best."
Louisville's second varsity eight crew also competed impressively against the top ranked Cavaliers finishing with a time of 6:43.32 while UVA turned in a time of 6:31.38. Buffalo finished a distant third at 6:59.63 in the race.
"We were a bit tense in the second varsity eight, which contributed to rowing a little tight and a little less composed, but they still put out a good fight and raced the entire way down the course," said Aubrey. "Both the varsity eight and second varsity eight finished about 12 seconds behind Virginia. There were different parts of the race that we wanted to focus on in the afternoon and both boats executed those areas well. We will continue to put the pieces together and we look forward to a great race tomorrow to wrap on our spring training week and our weekend of racing."
Also on Saturday afternoon, the Cardinals' varsity four boat finished second in a trio of entries with a time of 7:54.34 as Virginia led the way at 7:01.60. Jacksonville was third at 8:46.32.
On the novice side during the morning, the Cardinals' eight boat had a time of 7:26.93 to defeat Dayton (7:41.00) while trailing Duke (7:14.20). In the afternoon, Louisville had a time of 7:22.28 to trail Duke (7:03.36) and Buffalo (7:07.06) in one set of races. In the second afternoon race, Louisville had a time of 7:14.19 to trail Virginia (6:50.30) and Tennessee (7:12.33).
"This was the novice team's first ever 2000-meter races," said novice team coach Becky Smith. "Both the 1N8 and the 2N8 learned a lot today about racing. The 1N8 raced twice today and greatly improved from the first race to their second when they were narrowly edged out of second place by less than two seconds. The 2N8 raced once today. They had a good first race and are eager to see how they can improve with tomorrow's racing.
"I am very excited about the potential of this year's novice team. They are a great group of women who learned much about racing today that they can carry with them through the rest of the season."
Louisville will conclude the Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational on Sunday morning with varsity races against Alabama and Kansas.