The first Ohio State University women’s rowing team to win a national championship had local flare.
The Buckeyes’ varsity roster featured seven area high school graduates in sophomore Ashley Bauer (New Albany), junior Katie King (Dublin Jerome), freshman Victoria Langwasser (Olentangy), sophomore Anna Lind (Westerville Central), senior Cori Meinert (Upper Arlington), sophomore Amanda Poll (New Albany) and sophomore Alexandra Sawatzki (Westerville North).
Ohio State also had a novice roster that included area freshmen Sarah Asad, Sara Byrd and Hailey Tiarks of Dublin, Taylor Branstool of Johnstown and Audrianna Penza of Powell.
Poll said the Buckeyes were prepared for the competition they faced May 31-June 2 at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis. Ohio State scored 126 points to edge California (124), Princeton (112), Southern California (110), Virginia (108) and Washington (102) to capture the NCAA Division I title as 22 squads scored.
“I told myself that I’m nervous, it’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be very hard to beat us,” Poll said. “We’re No. 1 for a reason.”
Poll was coxswain on the second varsity 8 that won a national title in 6 minutes, 27.86 seconds, ahead of California (6:29.89) and Brown (6:30.14). The boat finished the season 12-0.
The Buckeyes’ first varsity 4 (7:08.26) captured its second consecutive national title ahead of Southern California (7:11.02) and Washington (7:12.03), while the first varsity 8 that included Bauer, King and Meinert placed third (6:23.19) behind California (6:21.42) and Princeton (6:22.59).
Ohio State became the first Big Ten Conference squad to win a national team title in rowing. The Buckeyes also won their fourth Big Ten championship, and Andy Teitelbaum was named Coach of the Year by the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association.
“You go numb and you finally start to realize what you have just done,” Teitelbaum said of his reaction to the national title.
A 39-9 regular season, highlighted by matchups with powerhouses such as Harvard, Virginia and Princeton, proved to the Buckeyes that they no longer were an underdog, but a contender.
King believes the rigorous schedule was a key factor in the team’s success.
“If we had raced teams that weren’t as fast as us, and we knew it, then we wouldn’t push ourselves,” she said.
King felt a little intimidated entering the NCAA tournament, but said she and her teammates relied on their training to push past the nerves.
“We worked just as hard as (the powerhouse schools) to get to this point, day in and day out,” King said.
To make the final races, the Buckeyes’ three boats had to compete in preliminary heats. While all three advanced with ease, Teitelbaum said his team got out to slow starts in those races, forcing them to come from behind halfway through.
According to Poll, the Buckeyes got faster as the event went on.
“We can go out there and hold a more aggressive rhythm and pace than any other team,” she said. “If OSU wasn’t beating you after 500 meters (we) were going to pass.”
Poll and King said they felt a sense of joy after winning the national title, and both credited the hard work and dedication of their teammates.