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IRA Grand Finals
Release: 06/01/2002
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June 1, 2002


Camden, New Jersey -

Bob Ernst (head coach)
"The thing that is interesting about this kind of racing is when you are competing to win it all, you're pretty focused on getting first place. I'm certainly not taking anything away from Wisconsin. They've got a great crew. It's just difficult, when you're on your way up. Obviously we are disappointed with the results. But we are still a very good team and we've got very fast crews. There are going to be growing pains anytime you are trying to get to the very top. It just wasn't in the cards today."

"I thought the guys looked a little bit flat at the beginning of the race, certainly not as quick and aggressive as they were yesterday. I think it's distracting when you are fighting to win the race and when you discover in the last third of the race that you're not, then you can get picked off by someone that maybe you would normally beat. I'm not taking anything away from Wisconsin. They deserve the silver medals. But we were here to try and win this race today and we didn't. You can kind of blow up if you don't, if it doesn't pan out exactly the way you want it to. They guys rowed a heck of a race. It was really, really a good race."

"This whole team has made a lot of progress this year. We've been chasing California around for the last four years now. They probably still have a bit more depth than we do. They've got some very skilled, accomplished guys. They are a great crew. I'm glad we had the victory over them this year and I'm glad we had a great race with them at Pac-10s. Today it just wasn't happening. They were on and we weren't. That's boat racing."

"Fred (Honebein) is doing a great job with the freshman program. That's where it all starts. It's all about recruiting and training good athletes and he is doing well. That bodes well for the varsity program next year."

Chris Hawkins (varsity eight two seat; senior; Seattle, Wash.)
(was it a good row?) "No. Not at all. It's a bit of a conspicuous day to have your worst row of the year. We just really didn't row well together. There was a strong tail and in conditions like that you have to stay quick and stay together and we might have been quick but we didn't stay together. We didn't handle the conditions. The conditions handled us. That was unfortunate. California had a great race, probably the best one I've seen. It's kind of hard to tell though, when you have a bad race. You don't know how much of it is them and how much is you. But they handled the course really well and had a great race. Then Wisconsin had a great race and just went through us. They took advantage of it."

(on being a senior) "It's horrible. It's not the way you want to end your senior year especially when you've worked so hard all year long. This wasn't the way it was supposed to go. But, it's a young boat. We'll see good things from them in the future. It's just unfortunate I couldn't be part of it, part of that success. Maybe in the future, with some hindsight, I'll be able to look back on it with a bit more gracious attitude. But right now it's tough, to be so close."

Fred Honebein (freshman coach)
"These guys were really ready for this weekend. Our training took a bit of a hitch earlier right when we got out here, but they really rebounded and did a good job on getting right into the heat of everything."

"I think you get really lucky with the athletes you get. They make the program. One of the fun things about coaching freshmen is that you get them, and then you get rid of them. But the unfortunate part about that is you get them and then they are gone. That's it. It's special because when you're on the varsity you have more chances to win a national champion. But you are only a freshman national champion once. That's a pretty special thing, especially for these guys.

"It also sets the tone for the next three years. I think that's why our varsity and jayvee are really disappointed right now. They've had success as freshmen. They've done a lot for the program. That's why the varsity guys are so down today.

"I'm really happy for my freshmen and what they did today, but I also really feel bad for the varsity and jayvee. They all got medals, which is nice, but I think they both could have been in any of the top three places. They definitely showed signs of speed and that they were capable of keeping up with everyone. It just didn't happen today. That's why we race. It hurts but they have nothing to be disappointed about."

Andy Altman (varsity four three seat; senior; Kentfield, Calif.)
"I couldn't think of a better way to finish off my collegiate career. It's especially nice after Pac-10s this year, because I really felt like we could have raced better. Just getting another chance to race again was amazing. We just wanted one more chance to go out there and lay it down. Even if we didn't win, we just wanted to have the best race we could. I think we did that. It's an amazing feeling right now."

"Everything came together. Our starts haven't been perfect this year and it wasn't again today. It wasn't as good as it could have been, but we got back together as soon as we settled down and got into our race pace. We systematically started moving through people. By 500-meters we were up on all the crews and we kept moving away. We didn't settle for one seat. Every time we got a seat, we would take another. We kept taking more.

Melissa Wengard (varsity four coxswain; junior, Seattle, Wash.)
"Remember the yesterday when I said I was going to pass out if we won? It may still happen."

"We were down at the start, anywhere from a seat to a deck. Wisconsin was up on us and Cal had us by about half a seat. We had been the last couple days about how are start is not our strong point, so we wanted to take it low rate and work on the power. We knew we could do it after that. We just started taking seats, one at a time, got open water and that was it. It was exactly what we wanted to do today. We are pretty excited. I can't explain it. There's no words. It's incredible. I've never wanted to be dumped in the lake more."

Kyle Larson (freshman eight four seat; Mt. Vernon, Wash.)
"It's a pretty amazing feeling.We just put it all together today. In the last 300-meters you're thinking, 'just keep going, just don't screw up' and you're thinking 'it hurts.' A year ago, I had no idea I would be where I am now. It's amazing. I've found a little niche and I like it."

John Heylin (freshman eight two seat; Canyon, Calif.)
"We've worked nine months for this one race. It's almost like our child. We conceived this race. This was (coach) Fred Honebein's child and it was born as we crossed the finish line. It was amazing."

"There was a tail wind and that made it pretty choppy. We had some weird strokes.

"When I crossed the finish line, I didn't know what to think. The last 250-meters went by so fast. Our coxswain was saying '250-meters to go' and I looked to the side and we hadn't hit the green buoys yet. I thought he was lying. I thought we still had 400-meters to go. Then all of the sudden he was telling us we had 10 strokes to go. It couldn't have been more than a few seconds before we were done. Then I heard all the screaming."

(on defending the championship) "We definitely thought about that. It was trust. One reason we did so well this year is that we all trusted each other to push it across the line. We trusted that if another crew put a length on us we could power through them. It was trust that when we called our power strokes, you weren't the only guy doing it. You could feel the move."

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