There was no singing of "O Canada!" Saturday on the banks of the Kansas River, but the passing of the torch, or maple leaf, had taken place.
Kansas University senior Jen Van Ruyven -- one of 10 Canadians on the Jayhawk rowing squad -- finished her home career as her freshman cousin Gillian Van Ruyven began hers.
Texas dominated the day and won the championship Cup at the Big 12 Invitational, but Gillian helped guide KU's 1st Novice 8 crew to victory.
"It was nice to win and beat Texas in our race," Gillian said after the Jayhawks finished first with a time of 7:04.09, while the Longhorns logged 7:08.80. "It was a fight to the finish. Every crew pulled as hard as they could today.
"They left with the Cup, but we still have a lot of heart here," she said.
Some of that blood in the Jayhawks' chest is of north-of-the-border descent, which made for an even more emotional outing for Jen Van Ruyven.
"It's special," Jen said, fighting back tears. "But I'm glad that I was part of this experience and maybe in a way put some people in place to keep it going."
No worries there -- eight rowers from Ontario will continue the Canadian influence --Galina Levin and Jen Van Ruyven are the only departing seniors.
"It is kind of weird that we ended up at Kansas, but it feels like home," Jen said, while looking at the spray-painted American, Canadian and KU flags that adorn the Jayhawks' dock by the river.
KU coach Rob Catloth said the coincidence was because of the talent in the area.
"It's kind of unique, but there's a lot of talent up there, and after getting a couple of girls, we've kept going back," he said.
But not even the Canadian talent could turn the tide against Texas. The Longhorns took the title with 55 points. Kansas State finished second with 43 points, and Kansas took third with 40 points. Three other squads also competed: Tulsa, Drake, and Baylor's non-varsity team.
KU's members of the 1st Novice 8 team were coxswain Crystal Reed, Alexis Boston, Jennifer Pearson, Gillian Van Ruyven, Sarah Smith, Jennifer Ebel, Kris Lazar, Bri Bohm and Kristen Hines.
Kansas' 1st Varsity 8, which finished third in 7:06.50 behind K-State and winner Texas, was coxswain Jasmin Smith, Jen Van Ruyven, Beth Hickey, Kristy Hainer, Amber Snyder, Erin Harrington, Luci Lyon, Casey Smith and Hayley Dool.
Kansas 2nd Varsity 8 -- Sara Kilbride, Krys Corbett, Erin Hennessey, Lauren Royall, Beth Olson, Ashlea Kramer, Sarah Sikes, Kristen Reynolds and Laura Adamson -- finished second in 7:01.20, 13 seconds behind Texas.
Despite the bittersweet ending, Jen Van Ruyven said the Canadian connection would continue for a long time at KU.
"We have tons of Van Ruyvens up there," she said. "It could go on forever."