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Virginia rowing head coach Kevin Sauer, in his 14th season at the helm, recently checked in with to preview the team’s upcoming competition at the NCAA Championships. The championships will be held May 29-31 in Cherry Hill, N.J.

Question: Talk about your selection to the 16-team field at the NCAA Championships.
: First of all we’re very excited about getting a bid to the NCAA Championships. As far as our draw, we were seeded very well across the board. That means the committee respects what we’ve been doing lately, which is a good feeling. We’re hopeful that we can keep it going.

Question: How rewarding was it to travel back to Oak Ridge, Tenn., and win the overall team title and three races at South/Central Regionals?
: It was really great to see the response that these kids had from previous disappointments this year. Everybody on the squad has had losses. To be able to respond to that and get better and better and do a great job at regionals was really a neat thing to see as a coach. But we have unfinished business. We can’t sit back on how we did at regionals. These kids have all bought in to the fact that we are finding ways to get even better. We have to. But yeah, how we responded and raced well and with conviction was a really neat thing to see.

Question: The Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) top 25 poll came out on Wednesday. UVa went from being ranked No. 11 to No. 4. What does that mean to you?
: The rankings are based on what happened last weekend. That’s where people think we’re at.

Question: Last year, the team finished fifth at NCAA’s. Does that linger in your mind at all?
: I’m not thinking about last year at all. I’m thinking about this year. As I said at the end of the last season, being disappointed in finishing fifth shows what we are striving for. But that’s done. Now we’re thinking about this year and what we can do. That is our entire focus.

Question: The championships will be held in Cherry Hill, N.J. Are you happy to be on the East Coast? Does it matter?
: Honestly, I don’t think it matters. Water is water. East Coast, Midwest, West Coast. Water is water. It’s the same for everybody. Everybody gets there early enough. The course is straight, it has buoys and lanes and that’s all we care about.

Question: How will you prepare this week before departing on Tuesday for the championships?
: We’re working hard and trying to find a little more speed. Every crew in the country is trying to do that. We still have the same goals to bring our ‘A’ game. From the ACC Championships through the Boston weekend to the regionals we’ve been getting better and better, and that’s a really neat feeling. The team has been responding to the workouts and the urgency really well. Now we’ve just got to keep improving.

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