STORRS, Conn. – With the fall season set to kick off on Oct. 5 in Hartford, Conn., the University of Connecticut women’s rowing team is preparing for another successful campaign in its second season in the American Athletic Conference.
The Huskies, who concluded the 2013-14 campaign with a third-place finish at The American Championships in Mercer County, N.J., made huge strides in a year full of transition. 18th-year head coach Jennifer Wendry was pleased with the performance of her young team and believes the future is bright for the current group of student-athletes.
“The American Athletic Conference is a great fit for our rowing team,” said the Husky head coach. “We have five member schools and three affiliate schools bringing us to eight teams which is a number I like. This conference change came a year after the NCAA changed the selection process so that conference champions get an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. This is something that is very encouraging for our program. Making NCAA’s is a very real goal for our team, and we have made it be the driving force for us this season. When you look at the make-up of our conference, there is no school that you could say is a frontrunner, the Championship could belong to anyone.”
At the conference championship, the Husky varsity eight finished third in its race and gained a lot of speed against second-place UCF since the teams competed at the Knecht Cup in April. UConn clocked in at 6:45.619 while UCF was second at 6:43.917. Louisville won the race in 6:36.796.
“Finishing third last year right in the heels of second place UCF was very encouraging to us,” Wendry continued. “Our goal going into the Championship was to finish top three. When the athletes saw that happen, it became real to them that winning and going to NCAA’s was something that could happen in the near future. They went home fired up and worked hard all summer, coming back this fall in excellent physical shape and enthusiastic to begin this year’s journey.”
The UConn athletic department enjoyed one of its best years in 2014-15, claiming three national championships (men’s basketball, women’s basketball, field hockey) and placing over 200 students on All-Conference academic teams. The tremendous success of the university, both in terms of athletics and academics, has been key for the rowing program as it continues to bring in recruits.
“UConn is a great place to be. It is a beautiful campus and there is a lot of pride associated with being a Husky. Our academic reputation is excellent. We tell our recruits that we want them to love UConn first then we can talk about rowing. The culture of UConn Athletics breeds champions, and I think our recruits see that when they visit campus. It is an exciting place to be, and a great athletic family to be a part of.
An increase in the total number of scholarships the program has to offer has attracted many top athletes to the Storrs area. Wendry, who has been with the program since 1997, is poised to lead the Huskies to one of their best-ever seasons this spring.
“There is so much to be excited about in UConn Rowing,” she said. In the classroom, our student-athletes continue to excel as they work toward their post collegiate professional careers. We have been fortunate to have a scholarship increase over the last few years and our results are showing because it has given us the ability to recruit top high school student-athletes. Our current freshman class has amazing talent and has acclimated well to our team. The team chemistry is in a really good place and we have strong leadership from our seniors. As the coach who started this program back in 1997, I have watched it evolve and grow, and words can’t really describe the excitement and pride I feel as we prepare for the spring.”
For a full look at the fall 2014 schedule, please visit: http://www.uconnhuskies.com/sports/w-rowing/sched/conn-w-rowing-sched.html
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