Oct. 7, 2011
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama Rowing team gets its fall season underway Saturday at the 19th Chattanooga Head Race in Chattanooga, Tenn.
“We have a similar goal going into this weekend as we have had in the past, which is to finish in the top three in all categories,” UA head coach Larry Davis said. “There is going to be more of a challenge to that this year. We have shown some speed in practice, and if we can do that over the whole 5000-meters in a racing situation, I think those goals are attainable.”
The Tide is slated to race a pair of Varsity 8+ boats as well as a Novice 8+ crew. Davis and company are also set to put four boats in the Varsity 4+ race. Alabama opens the regatta with the Women’s Collegiate 8+ race at 9 a.m. and is scheduled to finish things off at approximately 3:30 p.m. with the College 4+ race.
The Tide also opened with the Chattanooga Head Race last season, winning six medals, including a pair of gold medals.
The Crimson Tide comes into the 2011-12 season having to replace several key members of last year’s highly successful varsity squad, including Alissa Kranz, who became just the second UA rower to earn a place on the CRCA All-South Region team in 2011, as well as Laura Skaggs, one of last year’s captains and the first Tide rower named to the All-Conference USA team.
Despite those losses, Alabama returns a solid base of talented and experienced veterans who will be looking to continue the Tide’s climb up the conference, regional and national ladder. Coxswain Paige Storey, the “quarterback” of the First V8+ the last two seasons, is back for her senior season, as are senior Bianca Arrington and juniors Mariah Styer and Jessica Parker. Also back from last year’s Cal Cup winning First V8+ is senior captain Kristen Iverson who will be looked to for steady leadership in addition to her prowess as a rower again this season.
“This fall we come into the season with an interesting mix,” Davis said. “We have fairly good balance between the classes, but we definitely tend toward the young side of things.”
In addition to the 21 veterans from last year’s crews, Davis and company have added 16 newcomers, including 15 true freshmen. The Tides’ rookies make up the largest recruited pool of athletes in Alabama’s short history and all are looking for their chance to make the Varsity in their first year.
“We have 16 rookies come in, and a number of them have already tested and made the upper boats,” Davis said. “With youth, there’s always a little bit of coaching anxiety, because you never know how they’re going to respond in a race situation, but we’ll have a chance this weekend to see just that. “