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2021 NCAA Women’s Rowing Champs Begin Friday

BY LUKE REYNOLDS
PHOTO BY SPORTGRAPHICS/LISA WORTHY

For the women’s rowing squad at the University of Texas, every day is to be treated as if it were the NCAA championship.

Now, with the 2021 NCAA Women’s Rowing Championships 24 hours away, the team is set to “treat NCAA’s like it’s every other day.”

“If we can treat some Tuesday in February with the same sort of focus and determination as we would NCAA’s then when we get to NCAA’s we literally don’t have to do anything differently than we do throughout the year,” head coach Dave O’Neill said.

“On Sunday morning I’ll just put on the whiteboard ‘1 x 2k at max, open stroke rate.’ Then it’s just ‘OK, let’s go do it.’”

The top-seeded Longhorns’ approach to the event will be put to the test on Friday at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, Florida with the University of Washington looking to defend its national title after narrowly defeating Texas in the 2019 NCAA Women’s Rowing Division I Championship. The Huskies bested Texas by less than seven-tenths of a second in the varsity eight grand final in 2019.

The University of Washington racing at the 2018 NCAA Women’s Rowing Championship.

The pressure of this year’s top seed along with the close margins of the 2019 campaign has not seemed to penetrate Texas’ psyche, however.

“We’ve been pretty relaxed all year long,” O’Neill said. “We focus on what we can control and it’s all about staying all within our team and focusing on Texas. We decided ‘let’s just relax and be cool all fall long.’ We did zero erg testing in the fall and I think we only recorded one erg workout so it was intentional on our part that we’re just going to train and row… The rowing part is the fun part.”

For the defending Division II champs, the University of Central Oklahoma, this year’s event will be the culmination of months of successful training thanks to a positive spirit possessed by the athletes. 

“The team is feeling good,” head coach Brian Ebke said. “We’ve had a few good weeks of training since conference championships and it’s really exciting to be in championship racing after everything we’ve been through all year. It’s a fun part of the season.”

“The athletes have been excited to work hard so it’s kind of been easy to have a positive and productive training environment. I felt like that before conference championships and even more so after.”

“The athletes have been excited to work hard so it’s kind of been easy to have a positive and productive training environment. I felt like that before conference championships and even more so after.”

-Brian Ebke

The Bronchos will be racing against Embry-Riddle (Florida) in the heats on Friday in the eight and against Florida Tech in the four. 

On the Division III side, Bates College earned the automatic qualifier from the New England Small College Athletic Conference Championship and is the three-time reigning Division III champion. They will race against Ithaca, Washington College, Hamilton, Pacific Lutheran, and Wesleyan.

Bates College at the 2018 NCAA Women’s Rowing Championship.

“We have five boats who have put in work all season for these two boats to race,” Bates assistant coach Carly Abarbanel told the Bates Bobcast podcast. “That just goes to show how deep this team is and how special this team is. I’m pretty excited to see what happens.”

For heat sheets, results, and more information click here.

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