Six Lady Vol rowers earn national honors

The Lady Vol rowing program earned a number of honors from the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA), as the organization honored six UT rowers as National Scholar-Athletes and five others as All-South Region competitors.

Seniors Stephanie Davis and Rachel Mayberry and sophomore Erin-Monique Shelton garnered both honors, as Mayberry and Shelton both received first-team all-region selections and Davis was a second-team honoree. Joining the duo on the National Scholar-Athlete list are senior Heather Hill, junior Nina Dobratz and sophomores Caroline Howell and Alex Shishkov.

Mayberry and Shelton were the only orange-clad rowers to pick up first-team All-South Region honors, making Tennessee one of three schools to receive more than one rower on the squad. Davis was joined by First Eight junior rowers Renee Brittle and Krista Gearing on the second team. Tennessee was the only squad to place multiple rowers on the second team.

Those five all-region competitors have been vital parts of Tennessee's Varsity 8+ crew this spring, which stands at 10th in the final release of the USRowing/CRCA Division I Varsity Eight Coaches Poll. The crew topped ranked shells from Louisville, Stanford and Washington State in dual meets before ranking fourth at the 2007 Aramark Central/South Sprints. For Gearing, Mayberry and Shelton, these are repeats of the awards they took home last spring. Davis becomes the first Lady Vol coxswain to be honored on the all-region squad since Erin Artz in 2004.

The All-Region awards are designed to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of female rowers and coxswains during the current season. The nomination criteria include meeting eligibility rules as defined by her institution, participating in at least 75 percent of the season's races in the varsity boat and the student-athlete's head coach must be a member in good standing of the CRCA. A maximum of four athletes plus one coxswain per institution may be nominated.

The All-Region teams were selected as follows: Teams with varsity eight boats that were ranked in the top six regionally as of the final NCAA Regional Ranking had athletes automatically distributed to the All-Region teams. At-large selections (for rowers from teams that have varsity eight boats which finished outside the top six regionally) were chosen by the Division I Awards committee based on boat performance, 2K erg score and coaches' comments. Coxswains were also selected by the Division I awards committee based on boat performance and coaches' comments.

The six National Scholar-Athletes this season brings UT's career total to 28 over the past seven years. The six honorees falls just short of Tennessee's high on the list, as the 2001 squad placed seven on the roll.

Davis, a two-time National Scholar-Athlete, coxed four winning shells this spring, including twice with both the Varsity 8+ and the Second Varsity 8+. She completed her degree in social work in May.

Dobratz also picked up her second National Scholar-Athlete. A two-year member of the Varsity 8+, Dobratz is working on her degree in the College Scholars program.

Hill has rowed with the Varsity 4+ this year, helping that crew to a 18-8 overall record. She wrapped up her time at Tennessee with a degree in civil engineering and has plans to attend graduate school at Colorado State.

Howell has spent most of her time with the Second Varsity 8+ while also working toward her degree in logistics.

Shelton, a 2006 Second-Team Pocock/CRCA All-American, has been entrenched in the First Eights crew since arriving in Knoxville. She is working towards an art degree.

Shishkov, a nutrition major, has worked in the Second Varsity 8+ in 2007, helping that group to a 21-7 overall mark on the year.

The National Scholar-Athlete award is designed to recognize the outstanding academic accomplishments of female rowers and coxswains during the current season. The criteria include meeting eligibility rules as defined by her institution, participating in their second, third or fourth year of eligibility, participating in at least 75 percent of the season's races in NCAA eligible boats, the student-athlete's head coach must be a member in good standing of the CRCA and the student-athlete must have a 3.5 or higher cumulative GPA through the fall semester of the current season.

The Lady Vols host the 2007 NCAA Rowing Championships this weekend at Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The event begins on Friday, May 25, with the Division I First Eights heats at 8 a.m.

A three-day pass costs $25 for general admission or $10 for children or students, while daily tickets are priced at $10 a person or $5 for students and children.

LADY VOL SOFTBALL: The list of invitees for the 2007 USA Softball Women's National Team selection camp (June 11-15) have been announced and all three Tennessee seniors, pitcher Monica Abbott and outfielders Lindsay Schutzler and India Chiles, are among the group of 37 players selected to bid for spots on the prestigious squad for its 2007 summer event schedule.

Chiles injured her right knee in Saturday's NCAA regional, and she awaits the results of medical tests to determine the severity, so her availability for the trials is not yet known.

Team USA will be looking to defend its 2006 championship at the annual KFC World Cup of Softball (July 12-16) in Oklahoma City, Okla., and will compete at both the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from July 20-30, and the Canada Cup in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, over June 28-July 8.

Abbott and Schutzler are currently part of the 22-member U.S. National Training Team that was chosen back in September of 2006, while Chiles joins the prestigious group as one of 15 new invitees.

The Big Orange trio have helped guide the Lady Vols to a program-best four-year record of 240-48, the 2007 Southeastern Conference regular-season title, the 2006 SEC Tournament championship, No. 1 in the national rankings for the first time in program history and consecutive third-place national finishes at the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City (2005, 2006).

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