The LMU crew team rows during the 2018-2019 season. With a new head coach, the Lions are looking to improve on their third-place finish at last year's WCC championships.


The women’s rowing season is underway, and the hard work has just begun for a crew that wants to achieve the ultimate goal. Although the women believe they can win it all, having low expectations may be the remedy to get them closer to winning the WCC title.

For veteran star and graduate student Jessica Apodaca, bringing the title home for the school and her teammates is extremely important.

“This is my last year here and I want to end it on a good note," Apodaca said. "We know winning the title is important, but staying focused and locked in will improve our chances of reaching this accomplishment.”

When asked about personal goals, 2019 All WCC Rowing Team standout Ellery Martin gave her thoughts. “I think for me it’s just leading by example and leaving the team better than we found it," she said. "I know it seems cliché, but we want to leave on a positive note.”

The women stress that continued improvement day in and day out is the key to their success. The sport requires long and intense practice hours. As a result, the rowers are focusing on hard work in practices and pushing themselves to the limit and consider this essential to the progress of the season.

Last season's head rowing coach Hanna Luft resigned after being a member of the coaching staff for five years, serving as head coach for two of those years. After she left, it was the task of the athletic department to find someone with intentions to build on the foundation left by Luft and to continue moving the program forward. Last season, Luft accomplished this at the 2019 West Coast Conference Championships where the crew finished in third place behind the University of San Diego and the champion, Gonzaga.

As the search was on for a new coach, it didn’t take long to find someone. The incoming leader is Karl Huhta, who was inspired by the legacy Luft left and continues to preach her similar mindsets.

“For us we need to find where our limits are and respect the process of what it means to get better," he said. "We try to take a process-oriented approach to what we do by taking the little steps in order to make the big things happen.”

Huhta was named LMU head coach following the 2019 season. He recently spent four seasons as the associate head coach at Washington State, where he coached the Varsity 4+ crews and led the Cougars to a victory at the 2019 San Diego Crew Classic.

When asked about his approach during practices, Huhta chuckled.

“Well, obviously, I try to keep it as fun as possible since it’s such a hard sport," he said. "Our student athletes make a tremendous amount of sacrifices throughout their life while at LMU to pursue this passion of rowing.”

The rowing team will continue to prepare for their Mar. 14 event against hometown rival UCLA. The coach and players are well aware of how competitive the Pac 12 conference is and, while the crew knows the Bruins are a formidable opponent, racing them will be another opportunity to set standards high and start the season off on the right foot.

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