June 12, 2012
By Seamus Labrum
SEATTLE - The University of Washington freshmen eight has agreed to compete at the Henley Royal Regatta in England later this month. The trip to Henley-on-Thames, England, will be the second in three years for the UW's top freshmen boat.
The Grunties - as Husky freshmen are termed - will race for the Temple Challenge Cup, a competition designated for crews participating in their first Henley event. The regatta, which is one of the most prestigious in the sport of rowing, is set to take place from June 27 - July 1.
Earlier this month, the freshmen wrapped up an undefeated season with a gold medal at the IRA National Championships in Cherry Hill, NJ, setting a course record in their event. The win was the third in four years for freshmen coach Luke McGee.
"Luke has done an amazing job with this group," head coach Michael Callahan said. "I think it's the fastest freshmen team we've had since I've been at Washington."
This summer, McGee is coaching the U.S. Men's Under-23 Eights Camp in Seattle. So, the Grunties will be guided by Callahan and assistant coach Rick Gherst in preparation for Henley.
"I started as a freshmen coach so it's fun to get back to my roots," Callahan added.
With two varsity coaches at the helm, the freshmen are poised to take on the 2,112-meter course on the River Thames. The regatta features dual racing in a single-elimination, bracket format. Racing stretches across five days and concludes with the two top advancing boats squaring off in the Grand Final.
In 2010, the Grunties won all five races on the River Thames, including the Grand Final over ASR Nereus, a powerhouse Dutch rowing club. It was the first Temple Cup win in the program's history.
Callahan is optimistic about this crew's potential. He said that the freshmen are excited and hopes to help them build on their momentum from IRAs.
"When things are going well it's fun to keep it going as long as you can," Callahan said. "It's like getting a Dick's burger after a great party!"