July 24, 2011
AMSTERDAM, the Netherlands - It was a banner day for several Washington oarsmen at the U-23 World Championships on Sunday, highlighted by a gold medal performance by the American men's eight in the final event of the competition.
Three Huskies - Alex Bunkers, Ty Otto and Robert Munn - were featured in the USRowing eight that edged the Czech Republic by two seconds in a steady downpour, finishing in a time of 5:24.31 to win the championship. But the trio wasn't the only Dawg representation to have success on the 2,000-meter Bosbaan course in Amsterdam. Rising sophomore Sebastian Peter also won silver for Germany in a double, stroking the boat to a second-place finish among a tightly packed group of competitors.
In total, 11 Huskies competed in the finals of their respective events, winning four medals.
The U-23 World Championships feature some of the best young rowers in the world, many of whom will go on to careers with the senior national teams. Washington had more athletes compete for USRowing than any other collegiate program, partly because the Huskies training regimen does such an effective job of preparing rowers to compete on the international stage.
"Certainly our student athletes feel comfortable at this level in this environment," said men's coach Michael Callahan via email. "They compete at this level every day in practice. The Conibear Shellhouse is an inspiring place to be right now."
Otto and Munn rowed in the U-23 World Championships last year, winning silver with the American men's eight. Redemption this year came in the form of a dominating performance in Europe, as the Huskies formed the backbone of the 2011 USA eight against an elite group of competitors. Rowing in Lane 6, the Huskies trailed the Czechs at the first 500 meters but overtook the lead for good in the middle-half of the race. After the race, Munn - a native of Redmond, Wash. - draped himself with the American flag as he and his teammates belted out the "Star-Spangled Banner" during the medal ceremony.
"It was a really proud moment for me to see three Huskies on the awards dock listening to the national anthem," Callahan said.
For Peter, the German's performance in the double should help the Huskies restock a varsity boat that's losing several key pieces next season. Callahan noted the quality of Peter's sculling (rowing with two oars) over the summer was effective preparation for the Huskies' top boat next season.
Other Huskies who competed at the U-23s included the five who rowed together in a coxed four. Although their boat finished sixth, the experience provided an unforgettable experience for Jay Thompson, A.J. Brooks, Niles Garratt, Patrick Marre and coxswain Seamus Labrum, considering the group qualified through trials instead of going through the USRowing selection camp.
Several current and former Huskies return to international rowing next month at the 2011 World Championships in Bled, Slovenia. The event is the primary selection tool for the 2012 Olympics in London.