April 19, 2003
MADISON, Wisc. - The third-ranked Wisconsin men's varsity eight led for most of the race and held off a late challenge by No. 2 Washington to win by nearly a boat length Saturday on Lake Mendota and capture the W Cup for the first time in the 11-year history of the dual regatta.
Conditions were fine for the 2,000-meter race that was contested into a slight head wind with the temperature nearing 50 degrees. Wisconsin completed the course in 6-minutes, 9.1-seconds while the Huskies finished in 9:12.0.
The Huskies were ahead by three seats after their opening 30-stroke surge and led for the first 400 meters. Wisconsin settled into a better mid-race rhythm and gradually claimed a lead it would never relinquish. The Badgers drew even at the 400-meter mark and steadily pulled ahead to eventually possess an open-water lead with 800 meters remaining.
"It was a pretty good race. I thought Wisconsin rowed beautifully today," said Husky coach Bob Ernst. "They've got a really seasoned bunch of guys and they had a really nice rhythm. We had a good start today, but didn't really get into a comfortable rhythm for the guys that we have on board. It's kind of a growing pain for the young guys that we have, but we have to work things out and get better and we're going to do that."
Washington made a move at the 1,500-meter mark and closed the gap to a six-seat deficit at 1,700 meters. The Badgers responded with a sprint over the final 200 meters to cap the race with their coxswain alongside the Huskies' bow at the finish line.
"Wisconsin has a great crew with six seniors in the boat. We've got a lot of new faces in our varsity boat," said Ernst who has only one senior rower in his top crew. "When you go to battle with four sophomores and three juniors you have to expect some tough lessons."
Badger coach Chris Clark was impressed with the young Huskies, remarking that, "Washington has the elements and tools this year and in the future to be one of the greatest collegiate crews ever. We were lucky to win today."
Wisconsin was the national runner-up in 2002 while Washington placed third. The Huskies did not transport their usual racing shell to Madison. Instead they used a boat on loan from the Badgers.
"Traveling all the way back here and borrowing a shell is hard to do, but that's why we do it," Ernst explained. "We wanted to create a good traveling ethic for our rowers so we started this race with Wisconsin. Now, every other year our kids have to endure this trip."
That W Cup was initiated in 1993 to give the two schools another high-level race on the spring schedule. Each team hosts the event on alternating years with the winner receiving a trophy that features a "W" on top colored in both the purple of Washington and cardinal of Wisconsin. The Huskies won the first 10 W Cup matchups.
Things don't get any easier for the Husky men who return to Seattle to host top-ranked and four-time defending national champion California on Saturday, April 26. The dual regatta, which also features the top-ranked California women and No. 2 Washington, begins at 9 a.m. on the Montlake Cut in Lake Washington.
"We're very much looking forward to next weekend against Cal," said Ernst whose crew defeated the Golden Bears during last year's dual race in the Bay Area. "You can't be big time if you don't compete against big time people."
The following week, on May 3, the Washington men race against 10th-ranked Northeastern and the national team from Poland in the annual Windermere Cup regatta. The women's Windermere Cup field includes Belarus and Notre Dame.
W CUP RACE RESULTS
Saturday, April 19, 2003
Lake Mendota; Madison, Wisc. (2,000 meters)
Men's Varsity Eight
1, Wisconsin 6:09.1
(Cox-Mike Lucey, Paul Daniels, Beau Hoopman, Dan Mueller, Micah Boyd, Peter Giese, Mike Niemczyk, Alex Cockerill, Peter Nagle).