Kansas rowing coach Rob Catloth knows he has the young talent to lift the Jayhawks' rowing program to the elite level that only a small group of schools occupy year in and year out.
After three straight seasons of Top 25 finishes, the Jayhawks believe they are ready to take the next step.
"There's a whole bunch of teams in that kind of range," said Catloth, who enters his seventh season as coach. "We're getting there. We have a good young team. We really want to make a run this year into the NCAAs (championships).
"If we can run five or 10 seconds faster next year I think we're definitely in business."
For the first time the Division I tournament will be separate from the lower divisions, but the precedent of the Top 15 teams making the cut should remain the same according to Catloth.
The fall season doesn't offer much competition, besides the "Sunflower Showdown" KU's annual race with K-State, this year on Nov. 3 in Manhattan.
The fall season is intended for training for the spring when the official season commences, but that's not how Lora Wedd, a senior from Lawrence, looks at it.
"We have to work hard in the fall so that we can get a better ranking in the spring," Wedd said. "We're all just going to have to work extremely hard and that all starts in the fall."
Despite the loss of seven seniors, KU will have a loaded group of underclassmen who made great strides last year. Also 10 recruits should add depth.
Catloth again went near and far to bring in young rowers.
Three of the incoming freshman are experienced, including Jamie Anderson, KU's first recruit out of the Kansas City Rowing Club, and Brooke Barnett from Washington, D.C.
The Jayhawks will also have another rower from Canada Kristy Hainer, from St. Catharines, Ontario. Catloth has seven rowers from Canada.
"I think when you get one, it's easy to get the next one," Catloth said of the Canadians. "They come to KU and it's not what they expect. They see the rolling hills and beautiful campus and it makes it easier to recruit more girls from the same area."
The Jayhawks, whose only spring home race will be March 30 against Texas, will be led by captains Dana Parsons and Andrea Bauck, two of the top seniors on KU's first varsity eight boat.
"Were looking pretty good," Catloth said. "I think the next several years look good. We have such a young team that if you get a few people setting the standard others will follow."
Wedd agreed and said that qualifying for the NCAA championships would be a sweet way to end her career as a Jayhawk.
"This year we only get stronger," Wedd said. "So I really think this might be the time we put it all together."