SACRAMENTO – The Sacramento State women’s rowing team is heartbroken tonight after they say they were forced to forfeit from a tournament in Oklahoma City at the last minute.
The tournament was originally planned for Sunday but due to bad weather, it was rescheduled for Friday morning.
“Just devastating, it was really heartbreaking looking forward to something,” said Amber Anderson Wells. “I think we were looking at really strong competition going into conference championships this year.”
Wells and Ashley Valesquez are both members of the Sac State women’s rowing team.
Rowing has always been a passion and some seniors on the team were willing to miss out on commencement to attend the competition.
“This year everyone has been solid and dedicated and we knew we wouldn’t be able to [participate in commencement],” Valesquez said.
But Thursday afternoon, all 36 members and their coaches found out the American Rowing Championship was suddenly rescheduled.
“With less than 24-hours notice, it’s very difficult to get from Sacramento, California to Oklahoma City in that short of a time frame,” said Sac State’s Athletic Director, Mark Orr, during a phone interview.
Orr says the team was notified too late and had no time to change flights to Oklahoma City for the competition.
“And that’s disappointing to me,” he said. “I told the American Conference I want to be a part of the solution, and not put an institution or a group of young women in something like this moving forward.”
FOX40 reached out to the American Athletic Conference; the commissioner issued a statement saying he regrets that the competition was rescheduled - but the safety of students, athletes, coaches and fans is top priority.
He went on to say:
“The staging of our championship Friday will allow for the safest venue for our student-athletes and provides the best opportunity for adequate racing conditions. We feel badly for the student-athletes of Sacramento State who will not be able to join us this year."
Sacramento State President, Robert Nelsen addressed the disqualification - saying it’s devastating for the entire team.
Eight of the senior members will be honored at Sac State’s commencement Saturday morning.