May 10, 2016
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Editor’s note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Wednesday, July 29, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2015-16 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.
By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — When they are away from water or the P. Sue Beckwith Boathouse, they are known as Nina, Zoe, Ashley, Kaelynn, Izzy, Cristy, Hannah, Beth, and Katie.
But during practice and competition, they are recognized only through the oneness of being members of the University of Iowa 1V8+ boat. No individuals, just eight rowers and a coxswain working in unison.
That chemistry could lead the Hawkeyes to their first NCAA berth in 15 years if they can finish in the top four at the Big Ten Championships from May 14-15 in Indianapolis. They received votes in the May 4 CRCA/US Rowing Coaches national poll and were ranked as high as 16th this season.
Iowa’s top crew is fresh off its best finish of the season, sweeping Central Florida, Clemson, and Tennessee at the Tennessee Invitational Conference Clash on May 1 in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
By employing a collective relaxed demeanor, the Hawkeyes hope to make waves at the Big Ten Championships.
“For us, it needs to be calm and confident,” said senior coxswain Katie Brown. “Sometimes we get excited and nervous and kind of grip it too tight. We know we’re going to do well and being calm and collected will be a key. I know we can row well and better than any team in the Big Ten.”
Iowa sits No. 5 in the most recent NCAA Region 4 rankings, looking up at league foes Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana. The Hawkeyes need a top-four finish at Big Tens to extend their postseason.
“Some of the racing our first eight and the rest of the team has shown against other Big Ten competition is that we’re within striking distance of out-racing their seed,” third-year UI head coach Andrew Carter said. “If they can out-race their seed, I think it can put us in good position for an NCAA championship bid.”
The successful blend of experience and youth among the Hawkeye 1V8+ crew has been a highlight this season. It earned a first-place finish by 15.11-seconds against Kansas in the morning session and another top result ahead of Minnesota and Oklahoma in the afternoon session of the Big Ten/Big 12 Double Dual on April 23 in Baraboo, Wisconsin.
It turned in strong performances against top national talent by recording a runner-up result against No. 1 Brown, a third-place finish against No. 18 Notre Dame and No. 2 California, and a fourth-place finish against No. 12 Wisconsin, No. 15 Gonzaga, and No. 18 Notre Dame at the Lake Natoma Invitational from April 16-17 in Gold River, California.
With the team title on the line, the 1V8+ boat defeated Minnesota by 5.7 seconds to earn the 42-30 team victory in the afternoon session of its home regatta April 9 on Lake Macbride. It also finished runner-up in the morning session to No. 12 Wisconsin.
“One of the things that makes (the 1V8+) special are the senior members of that crew,” Carter said. “Theoretically we have five seniors in there — one will return for her fifth year. The work they have done to transition this program in the last three years and get it to the level of competitiveness we have now, their leadership has been integral to that.”“One of the things that makes (the 1V8+) special are the senior members of that crew. Theoretically we have five seniors in there — one will return for her fifth year. The work they have done to transition this program in the last three years and get it to the level of competitiveness we have now, their leadership has been integral to that.”Andrew Carter
UI rowing coach
Senior Cristy Hartman has been part of successful Hawkeye boats in the past, but this one has shown the consistency needed to be successful at the conference championship and beyond.
“No matter what practice, we’re always on,” Hartman said. “This time the consistency is there. Most people in the boat have felt the bumps in the program and we have a chip on our shoulder. We are motivated.”
Zoe Ribar, like other Hawkeye seniors, has contributed to the progression of Iowa rowing.
“Knowing where we started, where we are now, and where we can be is exciting,” Ribar said. “There are no words I can use to adequately express how proud I am of my whole crew.”
Ribar says expectation is a key word as the Hawkeyes prepare for the Big Ten Championships. In 2003, Iowa finished fourth out of seven teams for its best finish in the league. The Hawkeyes’ only trip to the NCAA Championships was in 2001.
“We are less thinking of how we expect to do at Big Tens and knowing if we race the race we are capable of doing, we’ll be exactly where we want to be,” Ribar said.
Sophomore Ashley Duda agrees. One of the youngsters in the middle of the 1V8+ boat, Duda not only sees a fiery attitude during workouts, but she also notices across-the-board technical improvement.
“I think we’re going to go out hard and surprise people at Big Tens,” Duda said. “We are seen as underdogs and I think this year is our time to break out.”
“The attitude they have brought is a large reason why they all sit in the first eight right now,” Carter said.
The Big Ten Championships will be contested at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis. Heat races for the 1V8+ boats begin at 5:25 p.m. (CT) on May 14. The top six boats will compete in the final at 10 a.m. on May 15.