May 15, 2011
GOLD RIVER, Calif. - Michael Callahan didn't want it any other way. The 2011 Pac-10 Championship came down to the two best varsity crews in the nation, meaning either Washington or Cal would be able to claim bragging rights as the league's best program.
This time around, the spoils went to UW.
With the 1.7 second victory in the varsity eight final, the Huskies clinched the 2011 rowing title, the 34th in program history, and the fourth in the past five years for UW. There was little celebration, though, as the Washington crews quickly moved off the water to de-rig boats in face of torrential rains that swept across the Sacramento region.
"I was excited to win the last Pac-10 Championship as we move on to the new phase in the conference's history," Callahan said. "I thought the guys performed really well. I knew we would have some really strong challenges. I knew we had prepared well for (Cal) and I think we're in a good spot heading into IRAs."
The Huskies won the varsity eight final in a time of 5:38.2, about four seats ahead of the Golden Bears, who closed down UW at the 1,500-meter mark to make for a tight sprint to the finish.
Washington moved into position for the Pac-10 title after winning gold medals in the varsity four and the second varsity eight races. Cal took gold in the men's freshmen eight race, meaning the showdown between the No. 1 Huskies and the No. 2 Golden Bears in the varsity eight would determine the Pac-10 winner.
The most-impressive UW victory came in the varsity four race, as the Huskies were almost 20 seconds ahead of the Golden Bears, winning in a time of 6:29.6. This is a boat that had a lot of internal competition for seats after a surprising win by the program's "B" boat in last week's Windermere Cup.
Washington posted an 11-second win in the men's second varsity eight classification, crossing the finish line with a time of 5:41.5. It was also the third-fastest time in an eight-oared boat, perhaps indicative of the Huskies' overall depth. The Golden Bears win in the freshmen eight snapped a three-year winning streak by the Huskies in that race. But Huskies frosh coach Luke McGee was optimistic his boat could narrow the margin in the three weeks between now and the IRAs.
After years of searing heat on the picturesque Lake Natoma course, the Huskies had weather more like what they'd see back home in Seattle. Instead of 100-plus degree temperatures, the conditions in Northern California settled in the high 50s with moderate winds. Dark storm clouds set an ominous backdrop, although the only race affected was the women's varsity eight final.
Washington has several week to gain valuable speed before heading across the country to Camden, N.J., for the IRA Championships, which take place on the Cooper River June 2-4.