On the third Saturday in October, Tennessee lined up in front of thousands of cheering fans and won an event full of tradition and prestige.

And while it had nothing to do with Crimson Tide, stadiums or pigskin, the Lady Vols' rowing team went to a place with just as much history and pageantry, the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston.

"It's the pinnacle, the largest regatta in the world," UT coach Lisa Glenn said. "For one time, I think our girls finally got to see what it's like to be a football player on a Saturday in Neyland Stadium."

The team sent only one squad to Beantown, the Varsity 8+, for the race on the Charles River, while the other boats stayed home for the Head of the Tennessee in Knoxville.

The lone squad, however, came back with a gold medal after beating out 54 other opponents with a time of 17:31.82, edging the University of Cincinnati by a second. They won despite starting out the race 36th in a group of 55.

The results were pleasing, but not necessarily surprising, Glenn said.

"I was thrilled at the way they kept their composure," Glenn said. "I did expect us to do well in this race, but for the girls to perform in front of all those fans and find a way to get past that pack of boats, that was just a great effort."

The victory will go a long way toward gaining respect not only on the national scene, but a little closer to home, too, Glenn said.

"This is definitely the strongest win since the programs started," said Glenn, who has guided the program in four of the six years of its existence. "I'm just so thrilled for our crew. They've put us on the map."

Emotions ran rampant after the race, junior Kacey Montgomery said.

"We all cried," said Montgomery, who has teamed with senior coxswain Shannon McMahon since high school and claims this win as the best she's ever had.

"We're happy, not just for the nine of us, but also for all our teammates and the athletic department, as well."

The squad of nine - Montgomery, McMahon, Grace Harrington, Kelly Kraiss, Kay Logan, Kaitlin Bargreen, Ginny Bradley, Sally BeVille and Amy McIntosh - was also delighted for its coach.

"We were thrilled for her," said Harrington, who along with McMahon and Bradley, has competed under Glenn since the beginning of the coach's tenure. "Right when we found out we had won, everybody was looking around yelling, 'Where is she, where is she?'"

To understand the impact that the victory has had on all those involved, one has to understand the enormity of the Head of the Charles Regatta, Glenn said.

Streets close down in busy downtown Boston every year as thousands of spectators line the shore and the bridges of a three-mile stretch of the Charles River to catch a glimpse of some of rowing's best, from America and abroad, she said.

"There wasn't quite as much orange," Harrington said. "The fans there were so supportive, though. It was really a tremendous feeling."

It is a feeling that Harrington said she hopes extends to the atmosphere back in Knoxville.

"It's kind of tough with rowing, but I certainly hope a win like this would get our name out there," Harrington said. "Hopefully that'll lead to some more support."

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