Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Advertise in our classifieds section
Your classified listing could be here!
October 4, 2022

Texas rowing alumnae selected for Team USA, will head to Paris this summer

Courtesy of Texas Athletics

From the Forty Acres to the Eiffel Tower, UT alumnae Kaitlin Knifton and Mary “Daisy” Mazzio-Manson qualified for the 2024 Olympic team for rowing and are heading to Paris this summer. They mark the second and third Longhorns to make the team since Gia Doonan, who rowed with Texas from 2013-2017. 

“(Texas rowing is) very much in the early stages of making a name for ourselves,” Texas women’s rowing team head coach Dave O’Neill said. “We have a long way to go to catch up to swimming and soccer and some other sports, but we’re doing a good job.”

Knifton graduated from Texas in 2023 after spending five years with the rowing team. She is the second youngest woman on the Olympic team right now. Her accomplishments include becoming the 2022 US Rowing U23 Female Athlete of the Year and a two-time NCAA National Champion in 2021 and 2022. 

“She is a really hard worker … and is someone who’s going to do everything she can to win,” O’Neill said. “But then when the race is done, she is the nicest, most humble person.”

When coming back for her fifth year, the Austin rower suffered a severe back injury, resulting in her having surgery in the fall of 2022. After surgery, she worked tirelessly to get back into rowing, making her return earlier than expected. 

“She was lying in bed for a week, and making the Olympic team in 2024 seemed like a far-off accomplishment,” O’Neill said. “So she’s worked really hard to get there.” 

Mazzio-Manson spent four years at Yale before coming to Texas, having only one year to make her mark on the Texas team as a graduate student. What stood out to O’Neill was her desire to be on a team that had a chance to win an NCAA championship. She eventually became a huge asset of the team that won its first NCAA championship that spring. 

“She wanted to go to a school and make the most of that year and of her rowing career and she 100% did that,” O’Neill said. “She came in at a high level and got better and better.”

But her accomplishments didn’t all come easily for Mazzio-Manson. O’Neill recalled how she was initially “counted out” and had to fight her way back into the Olympic selection process. For both Knifton and Mazzio-Manson, it was a long journey full of ups and downs to become a part of the Olympic team. 

“For the two of them, it wasn’t just ‘Hey, row at Texas, do well, win NCAA and now you’re on the national team,’” O’Neill said. “It’s a long, winding road to get to that point.” 

Knifton and Mazzio-Manson grew up with incredibly athletic families, planting the Olympic seed early. Mazzio-Manson’s mother was an Olympic rower and her father was a talented national team rower. Knifton’s father still rows at a high level, and her grandfather tried to make the team as a race-walker for a number of years.

Having coached athletes who have been selected for the national team, O’Neill understands how stressful the process can be. O’Neill’s advice to the athletes is to keep enjoying what they are doing and continue to work hard, even when days are tough. 

“Now that you’re on (the team), keep on having fun and stay hungry,” O’Neill said. “Making the team was one thing, but going to the Olympics and winning a medal is a whole other sense of accomplishment.”

More to Discover