May 15, 2014
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The season-long pursuit of the program's first conference title as well as its first NCAA Championship berth culminates for the 17th-ranked Louisville rowing team with Sunday's American Athletic Conference Championship in West Windsor, N.J.
The single-day event will be contested on Lake Mercer in central New Jersey near the state capital of Trenton. The racing is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m., ET with time trials and the grand finals are set for an 11 a.m., start. The awards ceremony will follow the completion of racing at 12:50 p.m. The Cardinals will have crews competing in each of the six events at the championship - varsity eight, second varsity eight, varsity four, third varsity eight, second varsity four and third varsity four.
Louisville, the only nationally ranked team in the American entering the weekend, is looking to win the program's first conference championship after finishing second five different times in the Big East in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2013. The winning team on Sunday will also earn the league's automatic bid to the 2014 NCAA Championship providing an important additional goal for the Cardinals, who have never previously qualified for the national championship event.
"The goal for each of our crews is to win. We prepare each boat to be as fast as possible with the objective of winning events," said head coach Derek Copeland, in his second season guiding the Cardinals. "It'll certainly be a challenge as this will be the most depth we've ever raced against in a conference championship. Obviously, this is a fun time for our team and it brings new challenges."
Though the Cardinals have never won a conference team title, they have won five conference event championships with the most recent coming at last year's Big East Championship when they won the second varsity four title. Louisville also won the varsity eight championships in 2009 and 2011 as well as the second varsity eight and second varsity four titles in 2007 with all of those coming in the Big East. This year's squad last competed on May 3 in Ann Arbor, Mich., with a series of competitive races against No. 2 Ohio State and No. 9 Michigan.
"Since the spring semester ended for our team on May 1, our focus has been on training and recovery," explained Copeland. "We certainly have to toe the line of training hard and getting rest, but I like the progress we've shown. Hopefully, all of the hard work and energy we've put into training will help us reach our goal of qualifying for the NCAA Championship."
The field of 22 teams for the 2014 NCAA Championship will be announced on Tuesday at 5 p.m., ET on NCAA.com. The three-day event to determine the NCAA rowing champion is set for May 30-June 1 at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind.
2014 American Athletic Conference Championship
Sunday, May 18 - Lake Mercer - West Windsor, N.J.
8:00 am - Varsity 8 - Time Trials
8:08 am - 2nd Varsity 8 - Time Trials
8:16 am - Varsity 4 - Time Trials
8:24 am - Third Varsity 8 - Time Trials
8:32 am - 2nd Varsity 4 - Time Trials
8:40 am - Third Varsity 4 - Time Trials
11:00 am - Third Varsity 4 - Grand Final
11:10 am - 2nd Varsity 4 - Grand Final
11:20 am - Third Varsity 8 - Grand Final
11:30 am - Varsity 4 - Grand Final
11:50 am - 2nd Varsity 8 - Grand Final
12:00 pm - Varsity 8 - Grand Final
12:50 pm - Awards Ceremony