It is one of the more obscure athletic activities on the Big 12 sports menu, but there is a conference championship held in the sport, and this year’s conference champion in rowing is the Oklahoma Sooners.
The sport of rowing, which appears on the women’s side of the Big 12 athletic ledger, is a relatively new sport in the Big 12, but despite its low profile in the college athletic universe it is one of the oldest intercollegiate sports.
Rowing was first introduced in the Big 12 in 2009. Texas won the first four conference championships, but Oklahoma has won the last two years.
The Oklahoma crew was in fourth place in the team standings with three races to go, but the Sooners took first in both the First Varsity Eight and Second Varsity Eight events, which was enough to vault them ahead of three other teams and gave them enough points to claim their second consecutive Big 12 championship. Coming into the conference championship, OU was seeded third in the First Varsity Eight event and second in the Second Varsity Eight.
This year’s Big 12 Rowing Championship was held at the Chesapeake Boathouse in Oklahoma City.
Kansas had the team lead after three races, with a first-place finish in the Fourth Varsity Eight and second-place finishes in the Third Varsity Eight and Second Varsity Four races.
Oklahoma ended with 125 points to capture the team championship, followed by Kansas State (112 points), Kansas (104), Texas (91) and West Virginia (50). Kansas State’s second-place finish was the Wildcats highest finish since the inaugural year for rowing in the Big 12 in 2009.
“We got off to a slow start early this season, and the team really came together in the last couple of weeks,” Oklahoma head coach Leeanne Crain said. “Our girls put in the long hours and the hard work to prepare for this event, and I think that showed out on the course. It was great to get the win in front of out home crowd.”
The NCAA Rowing Championship is set for May 30-June 1 at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis. The newness of the sport in the Big 12 is reflected in the fact that no Big 12 team is ranked or received votes in the most recent NCAA Top 20 national rankings.