May 19, 2013
May 19th 9 a.m. PT| Lake Natoma, Calif.
RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif.- Sun and wind at Lake Natoma set the scene for the 2013 Pac-12 Championships on Sunday morning. The crowd was loud and the races were competitive as the Huskies stared down their Pac-12 counterparts, with the men and women competing in four races each (Novice 4, Varsity 4, Second Varsity 8, and Varsity 8) on the 2,000 meter course that will also be home to the IRA National Championships in two weeks.
The No. 1 ranked Husky men continued their conference championships winning streak, taking three of four races to earn the crown for the 4th straight year and fifth time in the last six years. The No. 4 ranked women rowed to a 3rd place finish, earning medals in all four categories, including a gold in the Novice Eight and a silver in the Varsity Eight.
On the women's side, the day started strong with the Huskies' Novice Eight rowing to victory over second-place California (7:04.10) for the third time this season with a time of 6:57.00. The Huskies youngest boat finishes the season undefeated, as the novice boats do not compete at the NCAA championships, but the future looks promising for these first-year rowers.
In the second race of the day for the women, the varsity four held off the Trojans of USC and the Washington State Cougars through the final 500 meters to take the bronze medal behind California (7:23.80) and UCLA (7:26.70), crossing the finish line with a time of 7:31.10.
The second varsity race saw the biggest comeback of the day as the Washington women survived a rough start and a 6th place position through the first half of the race to storm back in the last 500 meters and steal third-place, edging out fourth-place UCLA by just over a second with a time of 6:52.11. California (6:45.24) and USC (6:48.70) came in first and second, respectively.
Just before the varsity eight races, the winds--which had been gusting all day--switched from a tail-crosswind to a direct crosswind, so officials swapped the lane assignments to give the higher seeds the more advantageous lanes in those conditions. Washington's varsity, seeded second behind and in front of California, started in lane 6 and jumped out fast to an early lead through the first 500 meters. USC broke even with the Huskies passing the half-way point, just barely edging Washington out over the 3rd 500 meter portion of the course. The Huskies, coxed by junior Maddie Johnson, stayed strong and held off third-place California to take silver with a time of 6:42.99, just over four seconds behind first-place USC (6:38.15) and almost three second ahead of California. It's the second time this year the Huskies have beat out California's varsity eight.
Senior Madison Culpwas happy how the varsity eight boat came together and performed in her last Pac-12 Championship, especially with the NCAA Championships in less than two weeks.
"We really took it one stroke at a time and that worked well for us," said Culp. "It was a successful day and a move in the right direction. It's awesome to go out there and perform well here at Pac-12s and it definitely gives us momentum for the NCAAs."
When the final points were tallied, No. 4 Washington accumulated 36.5 points, barely missing out on a second-straight second-place finish at the annual championships, finishing just one point behind No.1 ranked USC (37.5) and two and half points behind No. 2 California. The Golden Bears may have won the Pac-12 Championship for the 6th straight year; however, as the close point differential proves, it could be anyone's race at the NCAA Championships.
Head women's coach and rowing director Bob Ernstfelt like the whole team put out a great effort today and performed well.
"It was a great day. We had a lot of young women out there scoring points for us today and we were only two or three points out of first place," said Ernst. "Seeing the way the novice women's team handled the competition is a great sign for the future."
Ernst was particularly pleased with his varsity eight, who have shown improvement during each increment of the season.
"The real hallmark today was the performance of the varsity eight," said Ernst. "They just keep getting better and better."
For the Washington men, the day began with a win by the Novice 8 shell, who captured the gold medal with their sixth victory on the season to stay undefeated, crossing the line with a time of 5:54.40, almost ten seconds ahead of second-place California (6:03.07) and over twenty-five seconds ahead of third-place OSU (6:19.70).
The Huskies' varsity four encountered a tough race from California in the second men's race at the championships. The Bears jumped out to a one seat lead in the first five 500 meters, and despite a push after the half way point, the Huskies weren't able to catch up, earning a silver medal with a time of 6:39.40. It was the first time in 2013 the Huskies failed to sweep all four categories at a regatta.
Men's head coach Michael Callahanknew that it didn't go the way the varsity four wanted it to go, but thought it was still a good performance by the four.
"It didn't go how they wanted it to, but I thought they rowed really well," said Callahan. "California had a good race. It's a reminder to keep working hard and keep improving. Part of getting better is learning how to win and learning how to lose and learn from it."
The Huskies' second varsity and varsity eights didn't miss a beat, turning in dominating performances and winning by open water in their respective races. Washington's second eight boat beat out California for the second time this season, winning by more than five seconds and capturing a gold medal with a time of 6:00.19. The Huskies second varsity eight remains undefeated on the season.
The Huskies first shell, coxed by senior 2013 Pac-12 Rowing Scholar-Athlete of the year Seamus Labrum, dominated from the beginning to win their fourth straight gold in the varsity eight event with a time of 5:50.59. The strong start by the varsity eight has been a point of emphasis after falling behind to California at the Washington-Cal Dual a few weeks ago on the Montlake Cut.
Callahan was pleased with the adjustments his top boat has made over the last few weeks and thought overall the whole team performed well today and didn't overlook the importance of the races at these championships.
"I thought California really tested us on our starts at the dual," said Callahan. "But I felt like we got off the line with them. They challenged us across the board and I thought we responded well. It was a really great performance heading into IRAs."
In true coach fashion, however, Callahan still believes they can still gain more speed between now and the IRAs in 12 days. The Huskies will have to be especially focused over the next two weeks, as the time between the conference and national championships is five days shorter than usual.
"It's a tight window," said Callahan. "There's still work to be done and I don't think we are at our peak speed yet."
The No. 1 Huskies accumulated 71 points on the day to win the title, finishing 11 points ahead of second-place California and 21 points ahead of third-place Stanford.
Senior Alex Bunkersand seven-seat in the varsity eight boat has never lost a Pac-12 Championship at Washington. Before the last race, it hit him that this would be his last, making the win a little more special than the others.
"I was calm until we got up to the starting line, then I realized it was the last and I didn't want to screw it up," said Bunkers. "We have a good year going and we executed all the way down the course. It feels great to win the Pac-12 Championship and be another step closer to the IRAs."
Although the winds slowed the times a bit and altered the lane assignments, both Husky coaches thought their rowers showed skill and handled the conditions well.
The Husky men will return to Lake Natoma in less than two weeks for the IRA National Championships on May 31st-June 2nd, where they will try to win the IRA title for the third-straight year and the Ten Eky award for an unprecedented seventh straight year, given to the team that earns the most overall points.
On Tuesday, the seedings will be announced for the NCAA Women's Rowing Championships, taking place at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind. on the same weekend as the IRAs.
PCRC Regatta (Saturday, May 18th, 2013 at Lake Natoma)
On Saturday, the Husky men entered three boats in the Pacific Coast Rowing Championships on the same course at Lake Natoma. The PCRC is run by the Pac-12 and features smaller universities and collegiate clubs and boats from larger universities that aren't competing in the main event on Sunday. The Huskies competed in the Men's Open Eight, Novice 4+ and the Collegiate 4+, winning two of three races.
In the men's open eight, the Huskies--coxed by sophomore Parker Ksidakis--lead from the beginning and never looked back, finishing ahead of California "a" with a time of 5:55.0. The men's novice 4+ repeated the outcome, outlasting California by five seconds with a time of 6:34.2. The lone loss of the day came in the men's collegiate 4+, as California edged out Washington by less than four seconds. The Huskies finished with a time of 6:33.8.
Men's Open Eight:
1) UW 5:55.0 2) Cal "A" 5:59.4 3) Cal "B" 6:12.6 4) CU "A" 6:19.6 5) Santa Clara 6:31.6 6) CU "B" 6:43.9 7) Sac. St. 7:04.8
Men's Novice 4+
1) UW 6:34.2 2) Cal 6:39.6 3) Sac St. 7:17.5 4) Santa Clara 7:28.3
Men's Collegiate 4+
1) Cal "A" 6:33.8 2) UW 6:37.2 3) Cal "B" 6:53.4 4) Sac St. 6:59.1 5) WSU 7:12.3 6) Santa Clara 7:17.8
Boat Lineups (UW Women)
1) Cox- Madeline Johnston (Seattle, Wash.), stroke- Patricia Obee (Victoria, B.C.), 7- Madison Culp (Seattle, Wash.), 6- Marie Strohmayer (Zell, Germany), 5- Ruth Whyman (Gloucestrshire, England), 4- Amy Fowler (Canberrra, Austrailia), 3-Victoria Nenchev (Vancouver, Wash.), 2- Kirstyn Goodger (Auckland, New Zealand), bow- Fiona Gammond (Bucknell, England).
1) Cox- Allison Welty (Long Beach, Calif.), stroke- Allie Delarge (Victoria, B.C.), 7- Maddie Cordner (Melbourne, Austrailia), 6- Sarah Dougherty (Kent, Wash.) , 5- Elisabeth Odland (Seattle, Wash.), 4- Kaitlyn Garlock (Kent, Wash.) , 3- Camilla Anderson (Wellington, New Zealand), 2- Grace Spoors (Christchurch, New Zealand), bow- Lana Harshman (Stanwood, Wash.),
Women's Novice 8
1) Cox- Reilly Dever (Seattle, Wash.), stroke- Gabrielle Halula (Sarasota, Fla.),7- Eleni Englert (Vista, Calif.), 6- Courtney Thompson (University Place, Wash.), 5- Rose Filer (Nederland, Colo.), 4- Sophia Dalton (Seattle, Wash.), 3-Hannah Allen (Spokane, Wash), 2- Allison Rutz (Edmonds, Wash.), bow-Hannah Aikman (Lake Stevens, Wash.).