IRA Men's Rowing Championships
Day 3 -- Saturday, June 7, 2008
Cooper River; Cherry Hill, N.J.
Michael Callahan, Head Coach
"Our guys went out there to win and they were just going really, really hard. It seems that Wisconsin had another gear at the end that we weren't able to match. Obviously we dropped the field with a really high pace. I couldn't be prouder of the guys. Wisconsin was just a really great crew, they were rowing really poised. They had a really good position and they didn't get in the dog fight between us and Cal, and that was probably very smart to do. They sat back until they needed to make their move and they did. We weren't able to match it. We had one more push and they were able to counter it again. It was a fast race, 5:31, so the racecourse gets short. They are a fast crew and they rowed really well.
"I reminded these guys that they are all champions. They are conference champions and most of them have won an IRA national championship. It's been a great season. It's a lot of weight to carry on a lot of those guys. We've carried a lot of weight of the position that we've held all year. It wears on people. Those guys really fended that off and really showed how mature they were.
"The team had crews that won three gold medals and two silvers. The boathouse is doing great. We're in a good position and we're gaining even more people next year. We have a great freshman class coming up and we have some guys coming back from the Olympics, so I'm already looking forward to next year. Now, we have some motivation."
On the second varsity winning the championship:
"When you have a bunch of seniors in a boat, that's the kind of race that you want. They just slugged it out and had one last, good punch. It's fantastic. I couldn't be happier for those guys, especially how they started the season struggling a little bit. They found themselves and really took ownership of the season. They did that and they got the payoff."
Jessiah Johnson, Varsity Eight 6 Seat
"Obviously we're disappointed. It sucks to lose. I've got to give them props, they're the best. It was a good fight all the way down. They took it up in the last 600 meters to go. They got it up pretty high in the last 500 and just got some seats on us. We started our sprint and they got a little more and maintained it all the way down. It was neck-and-neck all the way down. It was a good fight all the way down, and now we move on to next year."
Katelin Snyder, Varsity Eight Coxswain
"I think we just got beat by a better crew today. I believed in my guys until the very end. I'm proud because I know that we rowed the best race that we could have raced today. I think that's the ultimate goal. We accomplished that and that's really important. It definitely stinks to lose, but it gives you something when you know you put forth as much as you could.
"In the last 400 meters, Wisconsin jumped out ahead and then we just weren't able to catch back up. In the second and third 500 meters it was mostly us and Cal, Wisconsin was maybe half a length back."
Andrew Beaton, Second Varsity Eight No. 3 Seat
"It's an amazing feeling. It's probably the best feeling I've had my whole career here to go out strong and go out on top like that. Coach (Michael) Callahan told us after this race that we would be like brothers, but this whole season we've been brothers. The seniors, we've been brothers all our years here. It's been really great and a great way to finish it.
"Definitely going out strong was the most important thing for us. We made sure we were up in the pack and believed in our move at the 1,000. We took all those strokes together and Micah (Perrin) was making calls for pairs and for seniors. We were putting all our emotions into this race above any other. We just went early at the 600 and all of the guys were really going for it. We moved at the 600 instead of waiting until 200 or 300 to go. We knew we had to put it away as soon as we could going into the end. We really pushed hard and had a huge adrenaline rush. We were praying for that finish line to come sooner than it did, but we made it and won."
Asa Bergdahl, Second Varsity Eight No. 7 Seat
"This one is definitely more special. Before we launched, Mike (Callahan) came down to me and said, `You're back,' That really got me. It feels really more rewarding than the first championship, after what I've been through. It feels great. About two weeks after the 2006 championship with the freshmen, I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma."
David VanBolt, Varsity Four Bow Seat
"It's a different boat this year and I had no idea what the competition is like. It's a different field in the varsity four and there are some smaller programs that you don't know who's going to be fast. Marist really brought it to us out there today. They really had a great performance. It was great to just go out there and row our race and come out on top. It was a great day. All this season, no matter what the conditions were, we just really got out on the start at a much lower rate than everyone. That's kind of to our advantage because we burn a lot less gas in those first few strokes. We got out and assessed the field and watched people's moves. Marist over in lane one started moving. We held them. They got even quite a few times and we just had a little bit more gas in the tank the last few hundred meters. I don't think at any point anyone thought we had it locked up until the last two or three strokes. It was just really great racing."
Chris Rinker, Freshman Four Bow Seat
"I had no idea we were going that fast. It just felt really good. I guess that's the only way to describe it. It was just a really natural row and there was no real fall-off. It was a great way to end the season and then to set a course record, that's a special thing that doesn't happen very often.
"I'm feeling great. It's been great to race with all these guys. I have a lot of respect for all of the guys in our boat and the coxswain. It's an honor to race with all of them and come out in front. A few weeks ago it was a stretch to think we would do this. I knew we had a lot of talent, but we didn't have a whole lot of time to prepare. I definitely have a lot of faith in these guys to put forth their fullest effort. Having that confidence really helped us out."
On how the freshman four crew was put together:
"We rowed together in the eight and that boat was moving alright. Lucas (McGee) gave us the chance to go to IRA and took us in the fours. We split the second eight into fours and just seat raced over three weeks. We've had two weeks to kind of practice against the varsity four. It's definitely a short time period to put a boat together, but we worked really hard."