May 28, 2014
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The University of Louisville rowing program will begin its first ever appearance at the NCAA Championship on Friday when the 18th-ranked Cardinals begin the three-day event at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind.
Having earned an automatic berth by winning the American Athletic Conference Championship, the Cardinals begin the competition with a trio of Friday morning heat races starting with the varsity eight boat in Heat 1 at 9:10 a.m., ET. Louisville's second varsity eight boat will compete in Heat 2 at 10 a.m., while the varsity four boat will begin the weekend in Heat 3 at 10:50 a.m.
"It is so nice to represent the University of Louisville at the NCAA Championship and although we were close to getting in last year, I believe you also have to hit every rung of the ladder as you build," said head coach Derek Copeland, in his second season guiding the Cardinals. "Now that we are competing, we intend to continue moving the bar for this program. It has been an amazing ride and we look forward to seeing how it all shakes out on Sunday."
The mission for the Louisville rowing program since its first varsity season in 2001 has been to compete at a national level. The investment into the program by the university, including the impressive G. Garvin Brown III Rowing Center on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Louisville, has helped this year's team to become the first to compete for an NCAA Championship.
"We want to see how high we can go on the national scale and take a shot at those teams that may not be expecting us to challenge them," said sophomore Elise Valantine of the Cardinals' varsity eight crew. "We've been thinking about the NCAA Championships and competing at this event since the fall. I know it's been in the back of my mind. It was a motivator throughout the winter training and now that it's here, there's a lot of excitement."
After sweeping through the American Championship by winning all six grand finals for the program's first conference title, Cardinals knew they would have the opportunity to follow through on the goals that had been set in the fall. The objective for Louisville has never been to simply qualify for the NCAA Championship, but to have success in the program's first appearance at the event.
"Our goal all year has been to finish in the top 12 nationally and to do that, the varsity eight, second varsity eight and varsity four will all impact that," said Valantine. "Ultimately, we're going to go out there and do the same work we do day in and day out and see what we can do."
2014 NCAA Championship - 22-Team Field
Friday Race Schedule
First Varsity 8+: 9:10 a.m. (Heat 1)
Second Varsity 8+: 10:00 a.m. (Heat 2)
Varsity 4+: 10:50 a.m. (Heat 3)
Weekend Race Schedule
Friday, May 30: 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Saturday, May 31: 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Sunday, June 1: 8:30 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Awards Ceremony: Sunday, June 1 at 11:45 a.m.