April 24, 2007
SEATTLE - Bragging rights are on the line this Saturday, as the nation's top-ranked crew will host the second-ranked boat.
The sport? Rowing. The teams? The men's varsity eight boats from No. 1 Washington and No. 2 California. The race will cap off a morning of events and will set the stage for the most competitive and compelling regatta in the last 50 years.
With seven rowers back from the 2006 IRA Championship boat on one side and five crew members who competed at the World Championships on the other, it should come as no surprise that these two teams are currently the top-two teams in the nation.
But the Huskies, who have been voted as the No. 1 team in the nation every week this season in the Collegiate Coaches Poll, are not just looking to defend their top ranking. Last year, the Golden Bears won all but one race in the dual and the Huskies are ready to step it up.
Last week, the men's and women's squads faced off against Oregon State, but they saw those races as part of their training for the Cal dual.
The coxswain of the UW men's varsity eight and U-23 gold medalist in 2006, Katelin Snyder noted after the Huskies 15-second win over the Beavers last weekend, "We trained hard this week and through the race. We executed our plan well on our course. This was a good chance for us to race here before Cal came up."
Spend a few minutes with head coach Bob Ernst, and you will quickly find out that "This is going to be the most competitive and exciting Washington-Cal dual in the past 50 years."
Not only will this race clarify the rankings, it will also serve as the biggest challenge for both teams before the Pac-10 Championships (May 13, in Sacramento) and the IRA National Championships (May 31-June 1 in Cherry Hill, N.J.)
A stellar slate of races is also anticipated on the women's side Saturday as two-defending NCAA champion California invades the Montlake Cut. The Huskies are currently ranked 10th among the nation's women's varsity eight crews and the Bears are 13th.
The men's varsity eight race will cap the schedule of events at 9:45 p.m. The first race will begin at 9 a.m.