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    February 23, 2023 Williamsburg, Va. RSS |

    All the time and energy Liberty University’s rowing team has invested into its dryland training over the winter months paid off when it traveled to the College of William & Mary for Saturday’s Colonial Erg Sprints, held for the first time since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “It was nice to have them host the event again and to be able to race against rowers from William & Mary and VCU,” said Liberty Head Coach Debbie Prowse, who is gearing up for the team’s first practice water workouts of the semester at Smith Mountain Lake on Monday at 6:15 a.m. “They did really well during their winter training, and we are looking to capitalize on that and get on the water and get that technique working and be strong and ready to race.”

    The Flames and Lady Flames posted strong showings in several collegiate races, highlighted by a first-through-fifth-place sweep in the Men’s Novice 2,000-meter event.

    Saturday’s event winners were all team captains: Kimberly Loutzenheiser (from left), John Bailey, and Timothy Bentz.

    Liberty 6-foot, 6-inch sophomore John Bailey set the pace in that race, winning in 6 minutes, 23.8 seconds, followed by freshman Gideon Abbott (7:12.8), junior Ethan Alley (7:14.4), freshman Jonathan Dodge (7:18.1), and junior men’s team captain Kurt Herbert (7:21.5), with freshman Travis Hogan taking seventh in 1:51.3. Complete results are available online.

    In the Women’s Novice 2K race, Allie Reed finished rower-up to a William & Mary rower in 8:00.7 while fellow freshman Evelyn Edwards (8:10.7), junior Devyn Bayle (8:12.8), and sophomore Kayleigh Yohn (8:28.9) came in fifth, sixth, and seventh, respectively.

    Lady Flames co-captain Kimberly Loutzenheiser finished first in the Women’s Varsity 2,000-meter race in 7:46.8 while fellow sophomore Grace Sibert came in sixth in 8:02.4.

    Senior team captain Tim Bentz won the 500-meter Coxwain race while freshman Eva McCawley also participated in that event.

    “That was super fun and Tim absolutely killed it,” Prowse said. “He did awesome. I am very pleased with how the team is coming along. We have lots of strong ladies and men and we continue to build up our numbers with four new rowers and two new coxswains this semester, which is great. We are excited to have them on board with us. They are looking very strong, picking up things very quickly, and will be learning specifically how to row on the water.”

    She said the team’s dryland workouts have included a variety of cross-training activities to keep things fresh and new, and avoid boredom, burnout or overuse injuries on the erg rowing machines. Fun Friday activities have added a competitive element and helped with team bonding.

    “We have been working hard since getting back from Winter Break, training 5-6 days per week indoors, doing some weightlifting, erg training, swimming, running, and yoga,” Prowse said, noting that the team will have an indoor cycling spinning class this Friday supervised by a personal trainer at the LaHaye Recreation & Fitness Center. “We are excited to get out on the water and we are going to have a team meeting to discuss what to expect, especially for the novices, to give them some advice on how to prepare.”

    Rachel Teague serves alongside Loutzenheiser as women’s co-captain while Bailey, Jada Lane, and fellow sophomore Elizabeth Grace Norris are the team’s spiritual leaders.

    All but one of the team’s 28 members will travel to Hilton Head, S.C., over Spring Break from March 11-18 for a training week with at least two practices per day in the Intercoastal Waterway.

    “That will be a nice getaway, with lots of team building and coming together to prepare for the spring regatta schedule,” Prowse said. “The kids have a lot of time invested in it from their fundraising efforts and are really looking forward to it.”

    The semester’s first race is set for April 2 at the Occoquan Sprints, followed by the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association (SIRA) championships from April 15-16 in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and a race at Rocket’s Landing in Richmond on April 22. The season will conclude with the American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA) championships on May 21 back in Oak Ridge.

    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer

    Men’s novice rowers take off from the docks at Smith Mountain Lake during a fall semester workout.