March 12, 2014
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Following a successful fall training and racing on the water and a demanding indoor winter training schedule, the Louisville rowing program officially kicks off the 2014 season with this week's spring break trip to Oak Ridge, Tenn.
After arriving in the east Tennessee rowing destination on Saturday, the Cardinals started a busy week of work on the waters of Melton Lake. With an emphasis on training for races at the customary distance of 2,000 meters, Louisville will conclude the training week with its first test of the season as they host the third annual Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational.
"This week officially ended our winter training and moved us into our spring season. With the goal of training two to three times per week here in Oak Ridge, all of our training to this point has been preparing us for a 2K race," said second year Louisville head coach Derek Copeland. "The team hasn't done a lot at that distance this year, but all of our work through the winter prepared us for this spring break week. We will come out of this week ready to race at 2,000 meters."
The season-opening Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational is set for Saturday and Sunday at the Oak Ridge Rowing Course and will feature a strong field of crews, including Virginia, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Minnesota, Tennessee, Duke, Alabama, Dayton, Kansas and West Virginia. The event will feature three sessions of racing on Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning and all results will be published at row2k.com and GoCards.com.
The field of crews at the Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational is deep and talented and will serve as an excellent test for the progress of the Louisville rowing program. In the second year under the guidance of Copeland, and in the first season competing for the American Athletic Conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Championship, the Cardinals hope to carry momentum into the 2014 season.
"We had a great, the best we've ever been in the fall as a program and that's exciting," said Copeland. "Though we only had one pretty serious race in the fall, it showed that our top two varsity eight boats and our freshman eight boat were not only competing with some of the best, but doing it well."
A key area that has helped the increased speed for the Louisville rowing program has been the increased numbers of athletes competing in the program. Those increased numbers have led to more competition in and out of the water allowing for better results in testing.
The team has also placed an increased emphasis on the time spent on training. With rowing, skill will always be a very important component, but experience and the volume of training time are also pivotal to success.
"They've done more volume this year than in previous years and have handled it very well, which is a great sign," Copeland explained. "They also did more over the summer, so they were more prepared than ever to handle the increased work. Because of the good volume and the successes we had last season, this group is working with the knowledge that our program as a coaching staff works and will create more speed on the water."
Following the season-opening event in Oak Ridge, the Cardinals will then travel to Redwood Shores, Calif., for the Pac-12 Challenge hosted by Stanford. That will be followed by the Big Ten Challenge on April 12 in Iowa City, Iowa, and the Clemson Invitational on April 19-20. After a trip to Ann Arbor, Mich., to take on Michigan on May 3, Louisville will compete in the American Championship on May 18 in West Windsor, N.J. The season will conclude with the 2014 NCAA Championship on May 30-June 2 in Indianapolis, Ind.