Senior Jessica Allaway is the only rower to take part in Alabama’s two consecutive gold medalist performances at the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships.
Allaway has helped her team compete against top-notch rowing programs and win in fury for the past two years. And despite the harsh weather conditions, she did it again at this year’s SIRA Championships.
The senior rower helped the Crimson Tide generate a three-peat in Oak Ridge, TN., at the 2011 SIRA Championships. Although the Tide is a known-medalist at championship regatta, the team has never won three gold medals at the event.
“To sweep all the Varsity Open races is a really big step forward for our program,” head coach Larry Davis said. “In general, there aren't too many programs that have done that, so we were pretty happy with that.”
The three-peat Tide championed the Varsity 4+, First Varsity 8+, and Second Varsity 8+ on Apr. 17.
After last year’s gold medalist performance, the Varsity 4+ took first place again.
The boat was almost a boat’s length behind Tulsa, a team that beat the Tide’s Varsity 4+ at the San Diego Crew Classic in the beginning days of April; however, the rowers pulled through to first to lock in a victory with a time of 7:36.10.
“Winning in general is great, but winning from behind just goes to show that you can have power and speed, but you also have to have heart,” said Allaway. “Heart can win out sometimes. The Varsity 4+ pushed through more and more and finished with a big win.”
Posting a time of 6:47.00, the Tide’s First Varsity 8+ beat Tulsa, Kansas State, SMU, and Purdue.
“Our Varsity 8+ boat was right in the midst of things or just slightly ahead the whole race and was able to finish it off well,” Davis said. “In the last 100 to 150 meters they put on a really big surge and opened up about a half-length lead.”
Flying through the finish in first by more the 15 seconds, the Tide’s Second Varsity 8+ defeated second place Kansas State.
“In the Second Varsity 8, our ladies took control early in the race and opened up as they went,” Davis said. “We expected them to be able to do that, and they really executed well.”
On Friday, inclement weather surfaced around the entire southeastern part of the country. Despite tornados and hail, the SIRA Championships continued on. Usually, the Tide feels out the course with a practice the day before, but the weather would not permit.
“Except when it’s lightning, we have been practicing with the bad weather,” said Allaway. “When we practice on choppy water, it prepares us for any adverse conditions that can happen at a regatta like this weekend. We practiced in Tuscaloosa before the tornado came on Friday since we wouldn’t be able to practice in Tennessee as the bad weather was moving that way.”
Aside from the race itself, the Tide passed along an honor all its own. The Tide’s necklace tradition continued on with the passing of the chain to senior Daniella Barone for her tremendous spirit and her dedication to the team.
The Tide will finish up its spring season at Clemson on Apr. 30 before heading to the Conference USA Championships in May.