The fourth-ranked Texas rowing team secured podium finishes from all three boats Sunday to take second place at the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis.
This is the second straight year that the Longhorns have qualified all three boats for the grand finals and the first time all three have placed in the top three. It’s the third year in a row that UT has improved on its performance at the NCAA Championships. The Longhorns were third last year and fourth in 2017.
“Today was a great day for our program,” coach Dave O’Neill said. “We’ve worked really hard all year, and it was wonderful to see each boat on the podium. The seniors on this team were our first recruiting class, and they’ve taken the team on an amazing journey. I’m truly grateful for everything they’ve given.”
The senior class “took a chance on Texas by coming here,” said senior Fanny Bon, who rowed with the first eight. “We trusted the coaching staff in the sense that we believed in a program that would become a legacy instead of becoming a part of an already existing legacy.
“I think that because we knew that we had to start from zero in order to get there, we always have been able to push ourselves further and further because we’ve always known that we don’t have anything to lose. You have to stay humble and hungry the whole way through. I think we’ve never gotten complacent as a team, and that’s why we’ve been able to push ourselves so hard.”
Washington won the national championship with record-breaking times in all three races for the second time in NCAA history as it amassed 132 points. Texas, with two seconds and a third, piled up 125 points. Michigan was third with 119, and Stanford totaled 116. Ohio State rounded out the top five with 105.
UT’s first eight was barely beaten by the Huskies, who crossed the finish line in 6 minutes, 7.284 seconds to the Longhorns’ 6:07.971. Michigan was third in 6:08.659 as all six boats finished within a 4-second window. It was the best finish ever by a UT boat.
“That first eight race was probably the tightest I’ve seen at this championship, and I’ve been to quite a few now,” O’Neill said. “Three lead changes and really close finishes. Of course, we were looking for the win, but credit to Washington. They deserved the victory, and I cannot be more proud of what we’ve accomplished at Texas.”
“The team just keeps getting tougher and tougher,” said senior Kendall Chapman, another first eight rower. “We really are driving each other and there is a lot of competition within the team, amongst the boats.”
The second eight race wasn’t quite as close as Texas finished a little over a second behind Washington — at 6:12.328 to the Huskies’ 6:11.262 — after overtaking Michigan in the last 500 meters.
Texas’ four boat took third at 6:56.987, behind Washington’s 6:52.451 and Stanford’s 6:55.642.
“We kept the plan really simple for the day and focused on the basics of our program,” O’Neill said. “Pressure-filled races like we had today required a ton of character, and that really showed in each boat.”
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