April 7, 2012
SEATTLE -- To hear Bob Ernst tell it, his Huskies are beginning to take on a professional air. With a business-like approach, the Washington women's crew team went out Saturday morning and established the Montlake Cut as an unwelcome venue for visitors.
The Huskies were terrific on their home course, winning four of five races against the Cougars, including a victory in the Apple Cup dual between the two programs' varsity eights. This keeps the trophy in Seattle for the second year in a row, turning the tide in a rivalry that had tilted in favor of WSU in recent years.
With the effort, the Huskies reaffirmed their status as one of the nation's best crews. UW came into the dual ranked in a tie for third in the CRCA/USRowing poll, and the win sets up a tantalizing showdown with archrival California in two weeks at Redwood Shores.
Washington started the morning with an open-water win over the No. 14 Cougars in the varsity eight race. It was a wire-to-wire victory for the Dawgs, who put the pressure on their cross-state rivals right from the onset. Leading a few seats entering the Cut, the Huskies turned on the pressure to pull away from the Cougars towards the finish, crossing the 2,000-meter course in a time of 6:34.8.
"In the varsity race, the girls moved out right away and pretty much kept moving right down the course," Ernst said.
Two years ago, the Cougars came to Seattle and stunned the Huskies on their home course. Ernst respected how his counterpart at WSU, Jane LaRiviere, always had her crews ready to compete against the Huskies.
This time, the Huskies were the aggressors from the get-go.
"We knew they would come out really aggressive in the first 500," said senior 3-seat Erin Lauber. "It's always a competitive race with them; we get so fired up to race each other being cross-state rivals."
The only hiccup for the Dawgs came in the novice eights, where the Cougars erased an eight-seat Washington lead to pull away for a three-second win. Otherwise, it was a Husky dominated day, evidenced by the margin of victories in the remaining races.
The UW second varsity eight enjoyed an open-water win over their rivals, coming across in a time of 6:45.1, compared to 6:51.4 for the Cougars.
Washington also picked up wins in the varsity four and the open eight races, no margin closer than the 6.4-second delta in the penultimate race of mixed/open boats.
The Huskies have a weekend off before heading down to the Bay Area to take on California. Ernst predicted this would be one of the best, most closely contested races in recent years. It's a race the Huskies will certainly be ready for.