June 6, 2008
CHERRY HILL, N.J. - Two undefeated crews will clash for the varsity eight national championship Saturday.
Top-ranked Washington was victorious in one semifinal Friday and No. 2 Wisconsin won the other, setting up a showdown of unbeatens in the grand final of featured race at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Championships on the Cooper River.
Washington's entire five-boat fleet qualified for Saturday's grand finals and four of them did so by winning their semifinal races. Along with the varsity eight, the Huskies were first across the finish line in the second varsity eight, varsity four and freshman four events.
Live race results are available at PowerhouseTiming.com.
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The top UW crew extended its winning streak to 18 races. Their last varsity eight loss came in the grand final of the 2006 IRA Championships at the same Cooper River venue.
Washington sprinted out to an early lead in Friday's race and jostled down the 2,000-meter course with California. The Husky lead fluctuated between five and two seats throughout the race.
At the finish line, it was UW by one seat with a winning time of 5-minutes, 39-45-seconds. The Golden Bears were second in 5:40.08 and Northeastern was a distant third in 5:43.58.
"I liked that we were aggressive and we were rowing to win. That's what we came here to do and that's what we did," said first-year Husky head coach Michael Callahan, who cautioned that "the championships are determined tomorrow, not today."
The Huskies have resided in the top spot of the coaches poll all season. But, the most recent rankings have them splitting the 18 first-place votes equally with Wisconsin.
The Badgers won a hard-fought semifinal with the top-four crews finishing within two seconds of each other. Wisconsin's first-place time was 5:42.23, followed by Stanford in 5:42.99 and Columbia in 5:43.42.
Callahan caught a glimpse of Wisconsin's talented crew during the second semifinal race. He was impressed with the Badgers' speed and ability to hold off the other boats. But, that won't alter his team's outlook.
"In the end it's going to be about if we can focus on our own rowing. We know they're really good. The guys know they are fast. In the end, we just have to row to win."
Saturday's matchup of the nation's only two unbeaten varsity eights is not the only story in a compelling grand final.
UW again must get past its West Coast rival, facing Cal for the fifth time this season. Friday's 0.63-second semifinal margin was tighter than any of the three prior encounters. Previously their closest result was a 1.3-second Husky win at the May 18 Pac-10 Championships.
A surprise qualifier was Columbia, which booked its first varsity eight grand final appearance since the IRA switched to the 2,000-meter format in 1968. The championship field also includes Northeastern and Stanford.
The second-varsity race saw the Huskies go wire-to-wire en route to the best semifinal time in the event. UW opened a six-seat lead during the opening 1,000 meters and then held off a late challenge by Brown. The winning time was 5:44.67, followed by Brown in 5:45.21 and Orange Coast College in 5:46.77.
"That's definitely what we wanted them to do today," Callahan noted. "We know there's another level where we can row in that boat tomorrow. Hopefully, they're able to get there.
"They all know that there's another gear. They said that they were in about fourth gear just touching on fifth, but they didn't really put it in. So hopefully they are able to hit fifth gear in the final."
The six-boat second varsity grand final field also includes California, which won the other semifinal in 5:47.90, along with Wisconsin (5:51.20) and Harvard (5:52.11).
Washington won three of the last four national titles for second varsity boats. Five members of last year's IRA champion are in the current crew that will attempt to defend that crown Saturday.
The only event the Huskies did not have a first-place semifinalist was the freshman eight. UW's first-year eight tasted defeat for the first time.
Cal and the Huskies were the class of the field, battling down the entire length of the course. The Bears overtook early leader UW after the midway mark and held on to win by two seats. Cal's time was 5:38.30 and the Huskies finished in 5:39.88.
That result reversed the rival's last meeting, May 18 at the Pac-10 Regatta when UW won by six seconds.
Princeton placed third in the semifinal, over 10 seconds behind the Huskies with a time of 5:50.33. Harvard won the other semifinal in 5:40.69. Brown and Yale also qualified for the grand final.
The Huskies' varsity four crew was impressive, leading from start to finish en route to an open-water victory. Their winning semifinal time was 6:23.01. Brown was second in 6:25.05 and UCLA third in 6:26.90.
California had a winning time of 6:20.27 in the other semifinal that also sent Cornell and Marist into the varsity four grand final.
UW's freshman four rowed away from the field in its semifinal, winning by over 10 seconds. The semifinal was the first true race for this quartet, which registered the fastest time in Thursday's time trial. The first-year four did not race during the year and only began training during the last three weeks.
The Huskies streaked off the starting line, rowing at a high rate that gave them a boat-length lead just past the 500-meter mark. They cruised the rest of the way, posting a time of 6:38.00. Drexel was second in 6:49.88 and Oregon State third in 6:50.22.
Those three crews will be joined in the grand final by the top-three finishers from the other semifinal. California finished first in that race (6:38.12), Wisconsin was second (6:42.02) and Rutgers third (6:48.34).
This season's two entries are seeking to continue a heritage of success that has seen the Huskies win six consecutive national championships in four-oared events. Washington won the varsity four title at the 2003 and 2004 IRA regattas and the open four in 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007.
Husky crews won three national championships last year, in the varsity eight, second varsity eight and open four events. The freshman eight placed third in 2007. All five of this year's UW entries are still in medal contention.
The Huskies won at least one event championship in each of the last seven IRA Regattas.
Washington and California both advanced a crew into grand finals of all three major eight-oared events: the varsity, second varsity and freshman eight races. The Huskies were the last team to "sweep the river" in those events, winning all three races in 1997. That was UW's fifth all-time sweep as the rare feat was also accomplished in 1936, 1937, 1948 and 1950.
The IRA is the oldest collegiate crew championship in the country, dating back to 1895. It remains the premier event for national rowing honors for college men. This year's regatta features 1,312 athletes in 184 crews, representing 51 colleges.
Due to the potential of extremely hot weather for Saturday in southern New Jersey, the final day's schedule has been condensed, with less time between races. The schedule of races will also begin earlier. The featured men's varsity eight grand final is now slated for 12:24 p.m. Eastern Time (9:24 Pacific), one hour earlier than previously listed. UW's first race of the day is the men's freshman four grand final at 9:12 a.m. EDT (6:12 Pacific).
2008 Men's Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships
Friday, June 6, 2008
Cooper River; Cherry Hill, N.J.
(all races were 2,000 meters)
DAY 2 -- SEMIFINAL RACE RESULTS
(top-three finishers in each semifinal race advance to Saturday's grand finals)
Semifinal I -- 1, Washington, 5:39.45. 2, California, 5:40.08. 3, Northeastern, 5:43.58. 4, Navy, 5:47.09. 5, Harvard, 5:47.33. 6, Yale, 5:47.52.
Semifinal II -- 1, Wisconsin, 5:42.23. 2, Stanford, 5:42.99. 3, Columbia, 5:43.42. 4, Brown, 5:43.98. 5, Princeton, 5:44.93. 6, Cornell, 5:45.12.
Grand Final Qualifiers: Washington, California, Northeastern, Wisconsin, Stanford, Columbia.
UW lineup: cox-Katelin Snyder, stroke-Will Crothers, 7-Heath Allen, 6-Jessiah Johnson, 5-Simon Taylor, 4-Blaise Didier, 3-Roko Svast, 2-Toby Dankbaar, bow-Lowell Neal.
Second Varsity Eight
Semifinal I -- 1, Washington, 5:44.67. 2, Brown, 5:45.21. 3, Orange Coast, 5:46.77. 4, Cornell, 5:46.77. 5, Harvard "B", 5:53.52. 6, Oregon State, 6:04.51.
Semifinal II -- 1, California, 5:47.90. 2, Wisconsin, 5:51.20. 3, Harvard "A", 5:52.11. 4, Northeastern, 5:55.53. 5, Princeton, 6:03.26. 6, Boston University, 6:03.65.
Grand Final Qualifiers: Washington, Brown, Orange Coast, California, Wisconsin, Harvard.
UW lineup: cox-Micah Perrin, stroke-Graham Oglend, 7-Asa Bergdahl, 6-Trevor Mollenkopf, 5- Drew Fowler, 4-Tad McCrea, 3-Andrew Beaton, 2-Steve Full, bow-Bart-Jan Caron.
Semifinal I -- 1, California, 5:38.30. 2, Washington, 5:39.88. 3, Princeton, 5:50.33. 4, Syracuse, 5:53.55. 5, Wisconsin, 5:53.56. 6, Navy, 6:07.32.
Semifinal II -- 1, Harvard, 5:40.69. 2, Brown, 5:41.10. 3, Yale "A", 5:45.13. 4, Stanford, 5:47.72. 5, Yale "B", 5:51.87. 6, Northeastern, 5:55.25.
Grand Final Qualifiers: California, Washington, Princeton, Harvard, Brown, Yale.
UW lineup: cox-Alex Chalk, stroke-Hans Struzyna, 7-Noah O'Connell, 6-Nenad Bulicic, 5-Anthony Jacob, 4-Matt Zapel, 3- Ty Otto, 2-Bede Clarke, bow-Trevor Walchenbach.
Semifinal I -- 1, Washington, 6:23.01. 2, Brown, 6:25.05. 3, UCLA, 6:26.90. 4, Temple, 6:27.29. 5, Rutgers, 6:31.09. 6, Wisconsin, 6:44.49
Semifinal II -- 1, California, 6:20.27. 2, Cornell, 6:20.42. 3, Marist, 6:21.33. 4, MIT, 6:21.65. 5, Lehigh, 6:43.31. 6, Yale, 6:44.62.
Grand Final Qualifiers: Washington, Brown, UCLA, California, Cornell, Marist.
UW lineup: cox-Leah Downey, stroke-Stephen Connolly, 3-Dane Robins, 2-Kit Culbert, bow-David VanBolt.
Semifinal I -- 1, Washington, 6:38.00. 2, Drexel, 6:49.88. 3, Oregon State, 6:50.22. 4, Harvard, 6:51.36. 5, Colgate, 6:51.50. 6, Princeton, 7:01.22.
Semifinal II -- 1, California, 6:38.12. 2, Wisconsin, 6:42.02. 3, Rutgers, 6:48.34. 4, Yale, 6:49.33. 5, Temple, 6:51.72. 6, Cornell, 6:53.99.
Grand Final Qualifiers: Washington, Drexel, Oregon State, California, Wisconsin, Rutgers.
UW lineup: cox-Michelle Darby, stroke-Niles Garratt, 3-Bjoern Sbierski, 2-Tyler Emsky, bow-Chris Rinker.