Nov. 5, 2004
By Alisa Brandle
The dynasty that is Washington crew was cemented by the success of the 1970 and 1971 men's crew teams. Under the direction of legendary Hall of Fame member Dick Erickson, the standout team included three future Olympians and two others who would go on to compete at the World Championships. For their excellence on the water, the 1970 and 1971 teams will be inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame on Friday, November 5.
The 1970 men's eight-oared crew headed into the IRA National Championships coming off an above-average season, losing only to UCLA in two separate races. UCLA failed to qualify for the finals, but the Huskies' main opposition came from the three-time defending champion Pennsylvania. The Huskies started out characteristically slow, and were a boat length behind after 500 meters.
"Finally at 1500 meters the boat really started to flow," explained stroke Cliff Hurn. "It was one of those moments where you really get the feeling of being in the zone."
The boat quickly pulled ahead of Pennsylvania, but didn't stop there. Walking through Wisconsin and Dartmouth en route to the victory, the boat rapidly pulled away from the pack and won the race by several boat lengths.
After the race, coach Dick Erickson's thoughts assessed the performance: "Oh my God. It's been a long time."
The 'long time' Erickson was referring to was the fact that the men's eight had not won an IRA title since 1951, a long drought for one of the most successful programs in the country. The team also secured the Ten Eyck overall excellence trophy at the championships, by a virtue of two seconds and a first in the major events.
The 1971 team entered the season with veterans Hurn, Greg Miller, and Rick Copstead leading the pack, and hungry for a victory over the UCLA team that had beaten them twice in 1970. In Long Beach, the crew prepared themselves for UCLA, the first real test of the season. The men stayed even with the Bruins for the first half of the race and then pulled ahead, winning by open water over their nemesis from the past season. The team would continue in this fashion throughout the season, defeating UCLA once more en route to an undefeated regular season heading into the IRA Championships.
The 1971 IRA Championships, held in Syracuse, NY, begun in typical slow fashion for the Huskies. A Cornell team that had not won a race on the season shocked the Huskies, pulling away with 300 meters to go after a close race. The underdog Cornell team won by .8 seconds, and the Huskies failed to repeat the thrilling championship from the year before.
The season was far from over, however. The Pan American Trials, held three days after the IRAs, offered redemption for the crew. The Huskies narrowly advanced to the final round of the trials, and beat Vesper by a half a boat length.
After the race, Erickson said "Well, we're not collegiate champions but we are national Pan-Am champions."
The Pan-American championships were held on Lake Calima, deep within the western range of the Colombian Andes. Racing against Mexico, Argentina, Canada, Cuba and Chile in the final, the Huskies finished second by nine seconds to a powerful and star-studded Argentinian boat. The medal was the first in international competition for Washington since the 1952 Olympics, and the storied boat would be the last collegiate team to compete for the United States in international competition.
Rounding out the 1971 team was Jon Buse, Charles Rutherford, Fred Schoch, Bruce Beall, Pete Suni, and coxswain Dwight Phillips. Rex Thompson was a spare on the team who competed at the Pan American games. Rutherford and Rudolph went on to row at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, and Beall was selected for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Beall, Hurn and Phillips were a part of the 1973 World Games in Munich.
Friday's Hall of Fame ceremonies will take place in Bank of America Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. The event will start with a reception at 6 p.m. followed by the ceremony on the Arena floor at 7 p.m. The class will be introduced during halftime of Saturday's home football game against Arizona.
A limited number of $45 tickets to the event are still available and can be purchased at the door.
For more information on buying tickets to the Husky Hall of Fame celebration, click here or call the Big `W' Club at 206-543-3013.