Dec. 26, 2010
SEATTLE - The year 2010 was a great one for Husky athletics. Many teams and individuals won conference championships, advanced far in their respected postseasons and earned all-conference, all-region and All-American athletic and academic honors.
In honor of the great success from the past year, Gohuskies.com looks back on the top 10 stories from the calendar year in chronological order.
There have been dominant crews throughout the storied history of Washington rowing. There have been plenty of undefeated crews as well. But few have been as decorated as the 2010 freshman men's 8+ that swept through the Pac-10 Championships, the IRA National Championships before capturing the first Temple Cup in the program's history at the Henley Royal Regatta in England. The dream season also included multiple wins over the Huskies' primary rivals in Cal.
Freshman coach Luke McGee said after the Henley race in July that this win belonged in the pantheon of Huskies' milestones.
"This is the first freshman (Washington) crew that has ever won here," McGee said. "Before the race, the guys and I chatted a bit. I told them you have 50 minutes until you make history. You look around our shellhouse and see boats like the 1936 boat that won in Berlin, and the boat that beat the Russians in Moscow, it's pretty special to be included with crews like that."
In winning at Henley, the Huskies had to beat five crews in showdown fashion on consecutive days on a 2,112-meter course. Teams race one-on-one down the River Thames. It's a strenuous test of endurance, but also one that also showcased how mentally tough the Grunties (as freshman rowers are known at UW) were all season. En route to the championship, the Huskies beat crews from all over the world to prove they were global champions.
"It's a battle of wills," said men's coach Michael Callahan. "It's one-on-one racing. This isn't six boats like IRAs. It takes a lot out of the guys, but they're stronger for it going forward."
The irony is that this freshmen boat was relatively unheralded coming into the season. The 2010 Grunties did not have close to the international resumes of their 2009 predecessors, who arrived on Montlake with rowers sporting Olympic & World Championship experience. This unsung crew featured several walk-ons, and as McGee often put it, would never win the "eye test" on the docks.
Yet the results were the same, as the boat continued to rack up one win after another. In the Grand Finals of the IRA, a slim victory over Cal brought home the program's second straight National Championship for the freshmen. To cap the season with a win at Henley, though, was even more enjoyable.
Check back for tomorrow's Top 10 story about the USC football game.