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Local athletes compete with Kansas State rowing team
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OKLAHOMA CITY — Kansas State Women’s Rowing put in a spirited effort at the Big 12 Conference  Championship in Oklahoma City, finishing second overall with a score of 112 points.
The Lady Wildcats registered one victory from their second varsity 4, as well as runner-up performances from the first and second varsity 8s.
Oklahoma took first overall, winning its second straight conference title, while Kansas, Texas and West Virginia finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
The day’s festivities finished up with award presentations, as well as the announcement of this year’s All-Big 12 team.
The Lady Wildcats had a program record five athletes named to the first and second teams with Allison Dorau and Lisa Angell earning first-team honors and Meggie Murray, Madi Haney and Hillary Schartz, who is a 2010 Claflin High School graduate, being named to the second team.
Great Bend graduate Jessica Kuhlman was named first-team All-Academic Big 12.
Head coach Patrick Sweeney said despite not getting the conference title, the team performed well.
“Coming so close and getting second place is a pain, but the athletes did a good job, they’ve done a good job all year,” Sweeney said. “Considering where they were last year and what they’ve done this year with the lack of water time, they’ve done a really good job.
“We’ll go back, take a look at where we are at and come back in two weeks time.”
Opening the day with back-to-back fourth-place finishes from the third and fourth varsity 8s, the Lady Wildcats got started on the comeback trail with an impressive win from the 2V4.
The crew of coxswain Meaghan Kuzmich and rowers Jennifer Smisek, Chelsea Holt-Bates, Ally Franken and Hayley Harvey took first in a time of 8:24.51, nearly eight seconds better than second-place Kansas.
It was the first time K-State had deployed a 2V4 at the conference regatta, as well as the first winning performance by a Lady Wildcats boat at a Big 12 meet since the first varsity 8 won on Wyandotte County Lake in 2009.
Following a tightly-contest first varsity 4 race that saw the Lady Wildcats place third behind Texas and KU, K-State sat in third place overall with its top-seeded 1V8 and 2V8 left to compete.
In the 2V8, the Lady Wildcats battled to a second-place finish behind only OU in a time of 7:43.44.
The runner-up performance was good enough to set K-State up for a winner-take-all match-up in the final race of the day between the five schools’ 1V8s.
Oklahoma led the pack heading into the final race with a score of 66 points, while K-State, Kansas and Texas were all within striking distance at 62, 61 and 59 points, respectively.
Despite a strong start, the 1V8, consisting of coxswain Schartz and rowers Murray, Noelle Dykmann, Angell, Brittany Long, Dorau, Ashley Houser, Erin Roeser and Haney, could not overcome a dominant Sooners’ squad.
The Lady Wildcats’ top boat finished second in a time of 7:24.17, while Oklahoma took first in 7:19.48.
For K-State, though its comeback fell short the overall performance by the Wildcat women was one marked by exceptional improvement from years past. Only a year removed from a last-place finish at Big 12s, the second-place finish was the highest-ever by a K-State team since the Big 12 Championship became officially conference sponsored in 2012.