June 3, 2006
CHERRY HILL, N.J. - Washington's freshman eight crew won the gold medal Saturday and the Huskies captured their fifth consecutive national championship in four-oared competition during the final day of the men's Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) championships on the Cooper River.
The two event titles equaled the take from each of the last two seasons as the most for the Huskies' fleet of crews since 1997 when they claimed top IRA honors in three events. The two victorious boats continued a streak that has seen at least one Washington crew win a national championship during each of the last six years.
"I was certainly glad to see the four and the freshmen win, that was significant," Husky coach Bob Ernst remarked. "I don't think the jayvees had a particularly good row today. The varsity, that was a tremendous race all the way down. I'm really proud of all the guys. They certainly rose to the occasion this weekend and they had a pretty impressive outing."
The Huskies finished fifth in the varsity eight grand final that was won by Pac-10 champion California with a time of 5-minutes, 37.71-seconds. Princeton clocked a second-place time of 5:39.66 in the featured race and Brown was third in 5:40.92.
Harvard, the winner of the last three IRA titles, edged UW for fourth place. The Crimson's time of 5:41.96 was less than half a second faster than the Huskies' 5:42.44. Yale finished sixth in 5:42.84.
UW's top crew registered the second-best time during each of the first two days of racing. Despite their No. 7 seed, the Huskies' expectations were raised by close battles with top-two seeds California and Princeton in the heat and semifinal races.
"It's kind of a weird feeling that we're stuck in because we came into IRAs and we did a lot better than we expected," said junior coxswain Micah Perrin (Lynnwood, Wash./Meadowdale). "And so, kind of riding that wave we came out hoping for high things today. I'm not going to say we didn't have our best day today, but there are a lot of fast crews out there."
Washington had its two-year run as second varsity eight champion stopped when Harvard took control with a strong move midway through the 2,000-meter race. UW and Yale set the pace early, but were overtaken by the Crimson crew that cruised to a near boat-length win.
Senior Scott Schmidt (Grosse Ile, Mich.) explained that the Huskies' focus was solely on defending the title and not on any other finishing position.
"We were all going for first place, going for the wire. We were pushing for first so hard and that's when the field started breaking apart," he described. "Huskies always row to win. Even though we didn't win today, I respect the fact that we were going out for first place."
The winning time in the second varsity grand final was Harvard's 5:44.11 and Yale was second in 5:47.79. Wisconsin had a third-place time of 5:52.21, passing the Huskies in the final 10 strokes. UW posted a time of 5:54.21 followed by fifth-place Northeastern in 5:57.67 and Brown in 5:58.92.
Despite having only four crews compete, Washington placed third in the overall team standings with 193 points. California took home the Ten Eyck Trophy after topping the team standings with 196 points. Harvard, which won the last three team titles, was second with 195 points. Princeton had a fourth-place total of 169.
The Huskies' third-place showing is impressive as they entered a crew in only half of the eight events in which points are tabulated. They last won the overall team title in 1970.
UW's first-year rowers, who finished third at last year's IRA regatta, halted California's run of dominance in the freshman eights. The Golden Bears were undefeated in the last three seasons. They won the 2004 and 2005 freshman titles and had a perfect record in races this season.
Saturday marked the third meeting this year between the West Coast rivals. The Bears defeated UW by over four seconds, April 22 in a dual meet. That margin was trimmed to two-tenths of a second, May 14 at the conference regatta.
Washington won when it mattered most, taking home the Stewards Cup for the first time since winning back-to-back freshman championships in 2001 and 2002. The Huskies broke quickly off the starting line and went wire-to-wire. They made a decisive move 650 meters into the race to gain freedom from the field. Cal followed, but never seriously threatened UW's lead.
The winning time of 5:38.80 gave the Huskies a three-seat triumph over Cal, which finished in 5:39.98. Penn placed a distant third in 5:44.37.
"We worked hard for this," said UW freshman Max Lang (Lumby, B.C.). "Today we just concentrated on our boat, executed the race plan and were smooth all the way through. This was my dream."
UW sustained its success in the smaller boats, striking gold in a four-oared event for the fifth straight season. Washington won the varsity four championship at the 2003 and 2004 IRA regattas and the open four in 2002 and 2005. This year's UW four competed in the open race in which guidelines stipulate that each crew must contain at least one freshman rower.
"There's definitely pressure when four consecutive years Washington has brought out a gold medal four," said junior Dustin Kraus (Sacramento, Calif). "It also inspires a lot of confidence to know that your program has got the depth, the coaching, the athletes and the attitude to go out and get it done."
An impressive start gave the Huskies a lead they would never relinquish. As they broke from the pack, Cal tried to keep in contact. The Bears pursued all the way to the finish line, finishing with open water between their boat and the champion Huskies. UW's first-place time was 6:26.95, followed by Cal in 6:29.58 and Wisconsin in 6:36.06.
Rain began to drench the course right before the start of the open fours race. Kraus interpreted the inclement weather as an omen of positive results for the UW oarsmen.
"Honestly, 10 minutes before the start when the downpour came we knew that it was going to be a Husky day. We got out and led from the start. It was the best race we've had hands down in the four all year."
Washington and Harvard were the only two schools to advance a crew into grand finals for each of the three major eight-oared events: the varsity, second varsity and freshman 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.
2006 Men's Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships
Saturday, June 3, 2006
Cooper River; Cherry Hill, N.J.
(all races were 2,000 meters)
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS
1, California 196
2, Harvard 195
3, Washington 193
4, Princeton 169
DAY 3 -- GRAND FINAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS
1, California 5:37.71
2, Princeton 5:39.66
3, Brown 5:40.92
4, Harvard 5:41.96
5, Washington 5:42.44
6, Yale 5:42.84
UW lineup: cox-Micah Perrin, stroke-Toby Dankbaar, 7-Tad McCrea, 6-Ante Kusurin, 5-Rob Gibson, 4-Aljosa Corovic, 3-Colin Phillips, 2-Kiel Petersen, bow-Steve Full.
Second Varsity Eights
1, Harvard 5:44.11
2, Yale 5:47.79
3, Wisconsin 5:52.21
4, Washington 5:54.21
5, Northeastern 5:57.67
6, Brown 5:58.92
UW lineup: cox-Adrian Andrews, stroke-Drew Fowler, 7-Scott Schmidt, 6-Adam Van Winkle, 5-David Edward-Aron, 4-Andrew Beaton, 3-Derek DeVries, 2-Tyler Smith, bow-Craig Tyler.
1, Washington 5:38.80
2, California 5:39.98
3, Penn 5:44.37
4, Princeton 5:47.49
5, Harvard 5:47.52
6, Wisconsin 5:51.11
UW lineup: cox-Katelin Snyder, stroke-Will Crothers, 7-Mike Flight, 6-Jessiah Johnson, 5-Max Lang, 4-Bart-Jan Caron, 3-Trevor Mollenkopf, 2-Asa Bergdahl, bow-Lowell Neal.
1, Washington 6:26.95
2, California 6:29.58
3, Wisconsin "A" 6:36.06
4, Princeton 6:41.64
5, Wisconsin "B" 6:45.27
6, Yale 6:46.28
UW lineup: cox-Patrick Kavanagh, stroke-Peter Carlson, 3-Alan Oriard, 2-Dustin Kraus, bow-Ricky Bargreen.