Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By BREANNA KELLOGG
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Big Ten Championships provide teams an opportunity to showcase its talent on a bigger stage. For the University of Iowa rowing team, the Big Ten Championships serves as a platform to break a team record and show the world why the Hawkeyes deserve a bid at the NCAA Championships.
“My goal for the Big Ten Championships is to continue to have this program progress,” said head coach Andrew Carter “Each year I have been here, we have finished one place higher than the last. With last year being a fifth-place team finish, the goal stands at fourth. Another area we would like to tick a box is our point total. The team record is 99, set way back in 2003; we were close a year ago at 95, but this year we’d like to clear that bar.”
In order to reach their goal, the Hawkeyes will have to perform against stiff competition.
“The Big Ten is a tough conference,” said Carter. “For example, as you look at all the racing that has occurred over the season so far, the top six crews in the 1st Varsity 8+ event could be within a boat length of one another. It’s that tight.
“It’s terrific news for us to be in that mix, because some of these programs are among the top ranked in the country. We are sniffing around that. I’m pleased with what these women have done so far this year.”
Carter believes this stage provides the opportunity for each Iowa crew to step up and lead the rest of the team. To advance to the NCAA Championships, it is necessary that leadership come from the NCAA boat classes, the I Eight, II Eight, and I Four, but each of the crews contribute to the point total.
“We can’t win without all of our crews scoring,” said Carter. “We’re fortunate because our roster depth enables us to cover all the events and that helps us in the scoring. Not all teams are able to do that, but our depth enables it every year. As a result, any crew can set the tone for the others. One of the most inspirational set of races we’ve had this year came from our 2N8+, where they were able to beat Ohio State twice in incredibly tight racing.
“They were the first ones out against the Buckeyes that day, so that set the tone for our team against an impressive team. It caused the rest of the team to say, ‘If they can do it, so can we’. Leadership can come from anyone, but we absolutely need the I Eight, II Eight and I Four crews to step up if we’re to advance beyond the conference meet.”
The stakes of the championship extend beyond the end of the last race. The Big Ten Championships are the last step toward a coveted NCAA Championships bid. The Hawkeyes have only accomplished the feat once in program history — in 2001, notching 18 points to finish ninth in the 10-team field.
With the team recording the highest ranking in program history at No. 11 earlier this season and currently sitting at No. 12, an NCAA Championships bid is closer than ever.
“There is a bit of pressure because an NCAA Championships bid is on the line, but I think everybody is holding that at bay,” said Carter. “I think the women have been doing a good job of managing that pressure, keeping it away, and staying focused on the process.”
The Big Ten Championships begin Sunday at 8 a.m. (CT). The event will be live streamed on BTN2Go and will air on BTN on May 20 at 10 a.m.