May 28, 2007
The Washington men's rowing team is in New Jersey, making its final preparations for the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championships. The three-day regatta runs from Thursday, May 31 through Saturday, June 2 on the Cooper River in Cherry Hill, N.J.
Sophomore Max Lang (Lumby, B.C.) rows in the bow seat of the Huskies' top-ranked varsity eight crew. Last year he was a member of UW's national champion freshman eight.
Max spent a few minutes with GoHuskies.com, talking about the season and describing his thoughts on the upcoming IRA Championships.
GoHuskies.com: What are your thoughts on the season so far?
Max Lang: "It's been great, a couple of up-and-downers for myself personally. But for the team it's been a stellar year I'd say."
GoHuskies.com: What are you referring to about you, personally?
ML: "I had a snow boarding injury in the fall and was out for two-to-three months. Just coming back from that was just a little difficult at the beginning but I'm back into it now."
GoHuskies.com: You were probably anxious to return from the injury. Do you feel like you came back at the right time?
ML: "Yeah it was perfect actually, about a month and a half before they thought I'd be back. So it made the coaches really happy. I did my physical therapy and made it to all my appointments and it turned out good."
GoHuskies.com: Which race stands out as the highlight of this season so far?
ML: "I always say the last race, and that was the Pac-10s. I'd say that's our best race this season yet."
GoHuskies.com: You rowed with current UW teammates Rob Gibson and Will Crothers on the Canadian National Team last summer. How much of an advantage is that to be rowing with a number of people you are familiar with?
ML: We got to know each other pretty well this summer. You find a rhythm. I think that rhythm just got spread through the boat a little bit."
GoHuskies.com: What makes this varsity eight crew so special?
ML: "Every single guy on the boat has a different character. We're all from all over the place. We have two new walk-ons that have a huge part in this. When I think back over the year, Heath Allen and David Worley have had a huge influence. It's like new I guess, a new start with this crew."
GoHuskies.com: What was it like to win the national championship in the freshman eight last year?
ML: "It was awesome because the whole year we were always behind Cal. For the last two weeks, something just clicked. It was almost robotic because it just happened. Everything just clicked together and it was just awesome."
GoHuskies.com: Does last year's success at the IRA regatta provide any edge this year?
ML: "I think it's a whole different playing field this year because the varsity event is much more competitive. We have no idea how fast the crews are back East. The racing part itself is helpful in mentally preparing yourself, knowing the atmosphere and what to expect. But it's just a whole different field so we just have to start well from the beginning."
GoHuskies.com: What is your mindset preparing to race against crews that you are unfamiliar with?
ML: "You just put everything on the line, right from the first heat. The first heat is usually a little rusty because it the first time racing since the Pac-10s. You just make sure you don't let them get out on you and relax and see what happens. There's always the repechage."
GoHuskies.com: The IRA format is different from other regattas, with racing on three consecutive days. Is there any key to success at the IRA regatta?
ML: "I think with three days in a row you can always take what you did the day before and do something better with it. You always learn something that you can add on. That's what happened last year, every race we got exponentially better."
GoHuskies.com: What are your thoughts on Washington's No. 1 ranking?
ML: "Oh, I didn't know we were still ranked No. 1. I haven't looked at the internet or anything. So, I don't really think about it."
GoHuskies.com: Will Washington be a target of other crews because of the top ranking?
ML: "I guess so with the extra media we've had this year. I'm sure they're thinking about it."
GoHuskies.com: What was that like to win the gold metal in the eights at the Under-23 world championships in Belgium?
ML: "It didn't really sink in for a couple of days, maybe a week. It was unbelievable. It was an awesome crew, awesome conditions. Again, it just happened and clicked."
GoHuskies.com: You won a silver medal in the four at the World Championships in England. What was that experience like?
ML: "We had the mindset that our main goal that summer was to win that gold and that's what we did, After that was just a bonus. So we were actually pretty relaxed and we had some fun. I find that the coxed four event is not as competitive. So, if I make a different boat this summer, it's going to be a whole different playing field."
GoHuskies.com: On a personal note, what is your college major?
ML: "I was going along the business track, but I kind of lost interest in that right now. I like geography a lot, so I'm thinking geography."
GoHuskies.com: What do you project yourself doing after college?
ML: "My family background is horticulture and nursery and I might even be going to Germany to do an apprenticeship. I might be doing that for a couple years. I'm very interested in alternative energy, sustainable energy. I might do that afterwards."
GoHuskies.com: Rowing-wise, do you plan to continue to compete with the Canadian National team?
ML: "Yeah, we'll see how I do this summer and then next year I might take a year off to try out for the Olympic Team. Then, I'll come back to Washington after that to finish up."