Jan. 11, 2012
SEATTLE - The Huskies' successful showing at the IRAs and the U-23 World Championships was a recent profile in the latest USRowing magazine. And a big factor in the latter was the proliferation of Husky oarsmen who represented the USA this summer in Amsterdam.
The Washington men's crew program sent nine rowers to U-23s, more than any other university and a sure indicator of how well the coaching staff prepares athletes to row at the international level. Included in the group were three Huskies - Rob Munn, Ty Otto and Alex Bunkers - who helped the USA 8+ win gold over the Czech Republic. It was one of four gold medals the USA would win over the course of the championship event.
Additionally, the USA mark of 5:24.31 set a world record at the U-23s. Keep in mind this came against one of the deepest and fastest U-23 fields in regatta history.
Otto would later go on to win a gold at the Pan-Am Games in Mexico in the pair.
The acknowledgement from USRowing is another feather in the cap for the Washington program, which is coming off one of the greatest seasons in its history. Washington won five medals at the 2011 IRAs, including a gold for the varsity eight in the race that determines the National Champions. The Huskies were also profiled in the Rowing News as part of the magazine's "Best of 2011" series.
In an oft-told story, the Husky oarsmen arrived at the Cooper River in Cherry Hill, N.J., bearing shirts emblazoned with the word "Finish." This was something men's crew coach Michael Callahan cribbed from Husky football coach Steve Sarkisian following the Dawgs dash to the Holiday Bowl in 2010. Adding more intrigue to the situation was the Huskies loss in the semifinals to Harvard, casting doubt on whether the team could rebound in the Grand Finals.
"This is what we wanted to do - we wanted to have a good race on the final day of the year," Callahan told USRowing magazine. "It's a big-pressure situation, to win this race. It's a tough one to win."
Perhaps the best story in regards to Washington experience at U-23s was the 4+ boat that qualified through a more difficult selection process. Stroked by Niles Garratt, who is now competing for Cambridge, the four went through trials at Mercer, N.J. to qualify for the U-23 regatta. Despite not going through the more traditional development camp, these Huskies nevertheless were able to represent their country internationally. Even more impressive was that just one rower (A.J. Brooks) in the qualifying four had competed internationally.
The Huskies have already begun preparations for defending their IRA title, mixing in land workouts with rowing on Lake Washington. UW returns to racing on March 24 with the Class Day Regatta, an annual - and entertaining - competition between the team's freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors.