June 2, 2007
CHERRY HILL, N.J. - The focus is usually on purple in the University of Washington color scheme. Saturday the primary color for the school's rowers was gold.
Three crews gathered gold medals in one of the most rewarding days in Husky crew history.
Washington won its 12th varsity eight national championship, while the second varsity and open four boats also garnered gold during the final day of the men's Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) championships on the Cooper River.
"It's really gratifying," Coach Bob Ernst said. "When you have a really special bunch of athletes, you expect special performances. Anything less than what we did today wouldn't have been good enough. We're blessed to have super athletes right now and they know how to race."
Don't Miss the HUSKY MEN'S CREW CHAMPIONSHIP CELEBRATION on Tuesday, June 5 in the Windermere Cup Dining Hall at the Conibear Shellhouse. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. with a program to honor the crew starting at 5:00 p.m.
The three event titles were the most for the Huskies' fleet of crews since 1997 when they claimed top IRA honors in the three eight-oared events. The trio of championship boats continued a streak that has seen at least one Washington crew win a national title during each of the last seven years.
The Huskies' top crew completed a perfect season. That marked their first undefeated campaign since 1997, which was also the last year they won the varsity eight event.
The Huskies were the regatta's top seed and the nation's No. 1-ranked team all season. Along with the lofty expectation that come with those, they were also burdened with their school's 10-year absence on the awards dock.
"We knew it's been 10 years," explained junior Rob Gibson (Kingston, Ontario). "I'm glad it will go down in history that we won this year."
Gibson's former high school teammate, Will Crothers (Kingston, Ontario), is also happy that their crew added a chapter to the annals of the proud program.
"Now we are a huge part of the Washington history," said Crothers. "It's really amazing to be a part of that because Washington has such a huge history."
The Huskies raced out of the blocks and led for the first half of the race. Harvard and Brown drew even with UW at the halfway point before falling one-seat off the pace by the 1,500-meter mark. The Huskies sprinted the rest of the way en route to a time of 5-minutes, 33.16-seconds. Three-seats behind were Stanford and Harvard, who tied for second in 5:34.12. Brown finished fourth (5:34.98), followed by California (5:40.12) and Princeton (5:43.41).
In the grand final, UW out-raced Harvard and California crews that combined to win the last eight IRA titles. The Golden Bears were victorious last year, halting Harvard's three-year championship run. Cal won four consecutive years from 1999-2002.
Sophomore coxswain Katelin Snyder (Winter Park, Fla.) skillfully used her voice for the entire 2,000-meter race. She was at a loss for words after the varsity eight triumph.
"It's so cool," she said. "I wish I had some other eloquent way of putting it. It means that we've finally proven that our team has, not only potential, but we can get the results."
All four Husky crews received medals as the freshman eight earned the bronze.
Washington also captured the Ten Eyck Trophy, winning the overall points championship for the first time since 1970. UW amassed 216 points, followed by Harvard with 191, California with 190 and Brown with 185.
It took a furious comeback for the Huskies to win the second varsity championship for the third time in four years. They finished fourth in 2006.
Wisconsin defeated the Huskies by a deck in the semifinal. The Badgers were leading again late in the championship race, but UW coxswain Micah Perrin (Lynwood, Wash./Meadowdale) wasn't concerned.
"I don't want to say that we didn't take the semifinal to our full potential. We knew at the end of that race that we pushed Wisconsin, but we didn't hit our fifth gear. Credit the other crews, they pushed us in the heats and semifinals. But we were the best in the finals."
UW overtook both Wisconsin and Cornell over the final 500 meters, beating the Badgers to the finish line by six seats.
Washington covered the course in 5:43.02. Wisconsin's time was 5:44.73, followed by Cornell (5:47.71), Harvard (5:48.01), California (5:49.84) and Brown (5:50.40).
Washington sustained its success in the smaller boats, striking gold in a four-oared event for the sixth straight season.
This year's four competed in the open race in which guidelines stipulate that each crew must contain at least one freshman rower. UW won its third consecutive open four championship, an event it also won in 2002. The Huskies were victors in the varsity four race in 2003 and 2004.
The grand final clash came down to a battle against Princeton, the crew that defeated the Huskies by open water in Thursday's heat race. UW turned the tables on the Tigers when it counted.
Like the heat, Princeton surged ahead at the start and opened a boat-length lead. The Huskies made a decisive move just after the midway point, closing the gap and going ahead for good by the 1,500-meter mark.
"I knew that Princeton was going to put on a move right around the 1,000, so I had the guys stabilize through," explained sophomore coxswain Leah Downey. "We were really patient through the 1,000 and then we just broke them apart stroke-by-stroke. The best part of that entire race was when I knew we were walking on them and I knew that they weren't going to take the seats back.
A product of Seattle Prep (Wash.) High School, Downey entered UW devoid of crew experience. She's obviously a quick learner.
"Coming here and winning a gold medal my second year is just amazing," she exclaimed. "I'm in such a euphoric state right now." Washington won the freshman eight championship last year with a crew that included four members of the current varsity eight and three second varsity rowers.
This year's first-year crew was in good position early. They raced to the front before California surged ahead and steadily extended its advantage the rest of the way. The Huskies were running second until Brown nipped them at the finish line.
California's winning time was 5:40.88. Brown posted a second-place time of 5:44.17 and UW was third in 5:44.39. Harvard placed fourth (5:46.68), followed by Princeton (5:51.79) and Yale (6:00.30).
2007 Men's Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships
Saturday, June 2, 2007
Cooper River; Cherry Hill, N.J.
(all races were 2,000 meters)
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS
1, Washington 216
2, Harvard 191
3, California 190
4, Brown 185
5, Cornell 157
6, Princeton 147
7, Wisconsin 142
8, Yale 141
9, Northeastern 123
10, Stanford 112
GRAND FINAL RESULTS
1, Washington 5:33.16
2(tie), Stanford and Harvard 5:34.12
4, Brown 5:34.98
5, California 5:40.12
6, Princeton 5:43.41
Second Varsity Eights
1, Washington 5:43.02
2, Wisconsin 5:44.73
3, Cornell 5:47.71
4, Harvard 5:48.01
5, California 5:49.84
6, Brown 5:50.40
1, California 5:40.88
2, Brown 5:44.17
3, Washington 5:44.39
4, Harvard 5:46.68
5, Princeton 5:51.79
6, Yale 6:00.30
1, Washington 6:26.44
2, Princeton 6:31.31
3, Northeastern 6:33.57
4, California 6:34.77
5, Cornell 6:48.77
6, Syracuse 6:51.84