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Novack leads Hawkeye varsity eight

BY RYAN MURPHY | APRIL 19, 2011 7:20 AM

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Iowa's first varsity 8 has been one of its most consistent boats this spring season.

A lot of that credit has to go to senior Jessica Novack.

"She's been the stroke of the first 8, and the first 8 is a boat that's been really responsive the entire spring," Iowa head coach Mandi Kowal said. "I think part of that has to do with her leadership and what's she able to do."

Following the lead of Novack, the first varsity 8 boat won races at the Longhorn Invitational on March 20, and it has been one of the Hawkeyes' most steadily improving boats.

Novack is one of Iowa's most decorated rowers. As a junior, she was named to the All-Central Region first team, All-Big Ten second team, and second team All-American.

Outside of the Hawkeyes' season, Novack had a chance to row competitively in pairs races. In July, Novack and teammate Katy Kroll competed in the Under-23 World Championship trials in New Jersey. The pairs boat finished in third place behind boats from Wisconsin and Michigan. Novack said she was able to bring her experience from the trials back to the Hawkeye rowing team.

"We learned how other coaches coach, and we brought with us drills and verbal cues to share with the team," the senior said. "It was a different level of competition because you're all fighting for one spot, and you're not all together, as it is here."

The accolades and experience Novack has accumulated make her someone to follow, senior coxswain Emily Melvold said.



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"She's a very big part of our team," Melvold said. "She keeps a lot of girls in check with what they're doing. A lot of people look up to her, especially the underclassmen."

Rowing isn't the first sport Novack has excelled in. The Fort Wayne, Ind., native was a state-qualifying gymnast in high school, and she said the high-risk factor of gymnastics helps her excel on the water.

"The mental aspect of gymnastics really helps me," she said. "In gymnastics, you can kill yourself doing some of that stuff, so I'm able to say, 'If I could do that, I can do this.' "

Since she started rowing as a college freshman, she has worked her way up from being on the novice team her first year to being an All-American and team leader as a senior.

Kowal said Novack's biggest leadership qualities comes by example.

"She leads physically just by the things she's been doing and her consistency on the [indoor rowing machine], and she's been a really consistent athlete in terms of her performance," the coach said.

"She's pretty passionate about rowing."


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