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May 25, 2010
8:21 p.m.

CHARLOTTESVILLE — At the NCAA’s Division I women’s rowing championships in Sacramento, Calif., the 15 teams against which top-ranked UVa will compete this weekend include Michigan State.

The Spartans’ seniors include Emily Regan, the Big Ten’s athlete of the year in rowing.

If her last name sounds familiar to UVa basketball fans, it’s because Emily is an older sister of Buffalo schoolboy star Will Regan, one of Tony Bennett’s incoming recruits for 2010-11.

After her sophomore year at Michigan State, Emily spent four weeks in Charlottesville trying out for the under-23 national team, whose coach was Kevin Sauer. That’s the same Kevin Sauer who coaches UVa’s rowing team.

“Emily very much appreciated the support, encouragement and coaching she received from Kevin, especially with her being so new to the sport,” said her father, Larry Regan.

Sauer e-mailed Emily last year to let her know he was excited about Will’s choice of UVa. Emily was thrilled, too, “since she knew Kevin and developed a great deal of respect for the people affiliated with UVa that she met during her time in Charlottesville,” Larry Regan said.

One of Sauer’s top rowers has a connection to UVa hoops, too. Jennifer Cromwell’s father is former NFL great Nolan Cromwell, who was an assistant coach with the Green Bay Packers from 1992 to ’98.

The men’s basketball coach at Wisconsin-Green Bay early in Cromwell’s tenure with the Packers? Dick Bennett, whose son, Tony, grew up in Green Bay and starred at guard for the Phoenix.

Jennifer Cromwell, whose father now coaches the St. Louis Rams’ wide receivers, grew up in Bellevue, Wash., near Seattle.

“My brother actually went to Washington State,” she said Monday.

Small world. Washington State is where the Bennetts coached for six seasons during the 2000s. UVa, of course, hired Tony Bennett away from WSU, where he’d gone 69-33 after succeeding his father as head coach.

Jennifer Cromwell said she’s talked to Tony Bennett about their various connections.

“We’ve been following each other,” Cromwell said with a smile. “We were in Green Bay together, we were in Washington together, and now we’re in Charlottesville together.”

Jeff White

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