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IRA National Championships
Release: 05/31/2002
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May 31, 2002

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Camden, New Jersey - Quotes following semi-final races Friday.

Bob Ernst (head coach)
"It's going to be some great racing tomorrow. We talk about this day all year long. We talk about it from the beginning of the school year, in September. We talk about what our focus needs to be from that day forward. It comes down to - whether you make the finals or not, or when you won a medal or whether you won the regatta - it comes down to what kind of personality you have, what kind of character you have, but the preparation starts on the first day of school."

"It's a good course. It's a great regatta. The only thing I would like to see change is to have this championship rowed on the west coast, every third year or every other year. Then fans all over the country would be able to see this caliber of rowing. We have a wonderful course in Sacramento that would suit this perfectly."

(on the varsity eight having a Pac-10 flavor) "We've all raced each other so many times before. There aren't going to be any guessing games out there tomorrow. Everybody knows exactly what they need to do."

"It's funny. I heard OSU guys talking the other day about how they had a good season but they are still only third best in the Pac-10. If they can be in the top six in the nation, that's pretty good. It would be really easy for their guys to get an inferiority complex, banging heads with Cal and Washington all the time. They are definitely getting better.

(on the freshman eight) "They had a good race. Fred (Honebein) has got those guys ready to roll. They have a very, very strong team. They have every opportunity to win this race. I'm looking forward to having those guys on the varsity squad next year."

"Fred is the story with our program. He is the turnaround guy. He's made the biggest difference in our program. I hope the people in Seattle understand that California might be looking for a new coach and I hope they keep Fred in Seattle."

(on the varsity four): "It shows you that we have some decent depth in the program. Jeff Jorgensen and Andy Altman are tough guys and they are gifted guys. You can get a bit of a complex, being in the third varsity, if you let yourself, but those guys are out there working every day. Add those two freshman guys and it's great. It just makes that much more depth. It looks good for next year. They will be super assets."

(on the junior varsity race Saturday) "I know that in the JV race, Cornell is going to be a factor again. They are a really good team and really tough guys. But I know that our overhauled jayvee crew, we shuffled the lineup a bit -- there are four seniors in there and they would really like to go out with an IRA championship."

Peter Dembicki (junior varsity six seat, senior, West Vancouver, B.C.)
"Brendan Patterson, Matt Farrer, Jon Burns and I -- this is our last race. We're excited because our boat has been rowing better and better every day. I think we are going to have our best row in our last race in college. That's pretty exciting. I think, no matter what the results Saturday, we're going to have a huge release of pressure, with everything being over. We are excited for that. It's been awesome. I'm sad it's ending so soon. It's gone quick. But we're excited to end on a good note. I think we're going to take it all tomorrow and hopefully get a sweep."

Greg King (freshman eight coxswain, Meadville, Penn.)
"I'm optimistic. I think we're rowing really well. Since we got here Wednesday, we've rowed really well on the course. We're really putting things together. Things are coming together for us, each race. Saturday is it. Today we did what we do best. We went out and hit our start really hard. Get out and try to hold them off. At 500-meters we had a length on Michigan. We had a really good, clean start, clean out of the blocks. We just held them and inched away. We held them all the way to the line. The water was a little choppy. We rowed really well, considering the conditions. Everyone was happy with the row."

"It's incredible to be a part of such a huge regatta, the national championships. It doesn't get any bigger than this."

(on defending the frosh eight title) "That means so much. I'm pretty sure that if we win, it will be the first time in a long time for a coach to win back-to-back (IRA) freshman national titles. It's really important to us, to win for ourselves and to win for Fred (Honebein, frosh coach). He's been an amazing coach all year. Our victory would be all due to him. He never gave up on us. We had some big lows during the season, but he never gave up on us."

(on the Cooper River race course and having raced here before) "I've raced here a couple times. It's a great course. It was a little windy today, but it was okay. One thing that is very important for crew, and for a coxswain, is in the way I speak and having a confident voice. My voice has to be confident and controlled. If I let off any sense of nervousness, it's going to impact them as well. So it's really good, for me having raced here before, to be confident about the race course and knowing where I'm going. That confidence can carry over into their rowing."

Melissa Wengard (varsity four coxswain, junior, Seattle, Wash.)
"We wanted to follow the same race plan we followed Thursday. We're taking our starts fairly low. The first 500 we dropped back about a half seat. That's what happened yesterday. We wait until the settle and take it up a notch in intensity even though we're dropping the rate down. We went from about 39-40 right down to 35. It's exactly where we chose to be. It felt good. Right now our first moves are really working for us."

"I'm so excited about Saturday. But at the same time, you just have to look at it as just another race, another heat. Really, that's all it is. It's the grand final and if we win, I'll probably pass out, but for now, it's just another race. It's pretty exciting. Hopefully the weather is just like it was today, warm with the breeze cooling it down a bit. It feels like home, except 10 degrees warmer."

Evan Galloway (varsity four, bow seat, freshman, Bainbridge Island, Wash.)
"It felt good today. I'm pretty excited for tomorrow, really excited, a bit nervous. Obviously, it's my first big race, but we are confident. We feel like we have a real good chance of coming away with the win."

(after the re-start Thursday) "That shook me up a little bit. I was just really happy to get out clean again and find ourselves way out in front. We've followed our race plan to a tee. We haven't really one into a full-fledged sprint yet, but we have had some good power shifts at the end, to finish solid.

Washington Crew
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