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    April 20, 2022 Oak Ridge, Tenn. RSS |

    Liberty University’s crew team received strong showings from its women’s and men’s Novice 8 boats in this past weekend’s Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association (SIRA) Championships on Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

    The Lady Flames’ Novice 8 boat, powered by freshmen rowers Elizabeth Grace Norris, Rachel Teague, Kimberly Loutzenheiser, Jada Lane, and Grace Seibert, junior Robin Payton, and seniors Peyton Chandler and Morgan Schaible with senior Timothy Bentz serving as coxswain, advanced to Saturday’s semifinals after Friday’s time trial before making the cut for the A Finals as one of the top three finishers in the semifinal heat.

    The lineup for the A Finals included three NCAA Division I programs, including Kansas State, which won by more than 15 seconds in 7:15.009, in front of Clemson (7:31.415), Purdue (7:35.259), NCAA DI Tampa (7:42.577), and the Lady Flames, who finished fifth (7:43.425) ahead of NCAA DI Dayton (7:47.002).

    “Getting into the A final was super awesome and exciting, and overall, they had a really good weekend,” Liberty Head Coach Debbie Prowse said. “Had we been competing only against Club teams, we would have gotten a bronze medal, but it was good for us to race stiff competition, and definitely fun to go head-to-head with the University of Tampa. In the end, it was an exciting race and gave our girls a taste of that NCAA Division I competition.”

    The men’s Novice 8 team was rowed by junior Clayton Allred, seniors Morgan O’Connor and Zebediah Foster, freshmen Blake Mosshart, Luke Bayona, and David West, sophomores Carlos Diaz and Kurt Herbert, with sophomore Callie Perini as coxswain. The Flames wound up in 12th place out of 15 boats in Friday’s time trial, barely qualifying for the two six-boat semifinals. They then placed 11th overall in the semfinals to advance to the B Final, where they finished fifth out of six teams, beating Duke by more than 5.5 seconds in 7:12.336. “That was a tough race,” Prowse said. “They were all Club teams, but it was still stiff competition.”

    Complete results are available online.

    Due to schedule conflicts, Liberty won’t bring either of its Novice 8 crews to the May 20-21 American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA) National Championships. Instead, the Flames and Lady Flames will likely send two Novice 4s and two pairs boats.

    “They should be able to make a good run in both,” Prowse said.

    The ACRA Nationals will also be rowed on Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge.

    “That is a very nice location for nationals and now the kids who hadn’t rowed there before can go back to the same course,” Prowse said. “I am glad (ACRAs) decided to have nationals a week earlier than when it used to be held over Memorial Day weekend, which cuts down on boating traffic in the lake and holiday traffic on the roads.”

    The Flames and Lady Flames will have close to three weeks of training to prepare for their final regatta, before and after taking a couple weeks off for exams and Commencement Weekend.

    “We will continue to practice five days per week, carrying on just like normal,” Prowse said. “We will be using our indoor ergs to determine the top six (men’s and women’s) rowers who will go to ACRAs and which will row on the Novice 4 and which will row together as a pair.”

    Only Schaible and Chandler will be graduating next month, giving Prowse high hopes for the future, when the team should again be able to enter varsity boats.

    “The majority of the team is coming back next year, and anybody that’s rowed this year automatically moves up to varsity,” she said.