Texas makes program history with second-place championship finish

Donnavan Smoot

It was a historic Sunday morning for Texas, as the Longhorns placed second during the NCAA Championships — the highest finish in Texas Rowing history.

All three boats placed on the water came out in the top three. Both eight boats finished second while the four boat came in third. The 125 points accumulated by the trio was good to pass Michigan by six and claim the second spot. Washington came in first with 132 points after sweeping all three races.

For Texas, the climb to get to this point was just as meaningful as the overall finish, specifically for the seniors.

“(The senior class) took a chance on Texas by coming here,” senior Fanny Bon said to Texas Sports. “We trusted the coaching staff in the sense that we believed in a program that would become a legacy instead of becoming a part of an already existing legacy.”

Circumstances for the races nearly affected the day. Due to concerns of heavy winds coming in play and skewing lane fairness, the start time of the first eight was moved to to 8 a.m.

The race that ensued was an instant classic. Each school was neck-in-neck, with the fastest and slowest times being separated by only four seconds. Three lead changes occured in the early race. Texas finished behind Washington by a mere .687 seconds.

“That first eight race was probably the tightest I’ve seen at this championship, and I’ve been to quite a few now,” Texas head coach Dave O’Neill said. “(There were) three lead changes and really close finishes. Of course we were looking for the win, but credit to Washington.”

The second race matched the intensity of the first. Texas overtook Michigan down the home stretch, but wasn’t able to fend off the Huskies and finished second again.

The second-place finish marks the third consecutive year Texas raised its NCAA Championship finish from the year before.

“Today was a great day for our program,” O’Neill said. “We’ve worked really hard all year, and it was wonderful to see each boat on the podium. The seniors on this team were our first recruiting class, and they’ve taken the team on an amazing journey. I’m truly grateful for everything they’ve given.”