June 6, 2009
RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. - Washington swept all three eights for the first time since 1997 to win the 107th IRA Championships Regatta Saturday on Lake Natoma.
In the final event of the day, California got out to a good lead, with Washington and Stanford battling for position. By the 500-meter mark, the Golden Bears were firmly established as the crew to beat, with Washington and Stanford nearly even with each other.
"We knew we had to weather a really strong first 500 meters by California and Stanford to have a chance," said head men's coach Michael Callahan. "We were really just trying to stay close enough to make a run for it in the second 1000."
Stanford made a move and rowed through California, briefly taking the lead, with Washington in third. Cal responded, retaking the lead, leaving the Cardinal and Washington nearly even, but with a slight advantage to Stanford.
"We didn't want to give up as much as we did, so that makes a coach a little nervous on the beach," recalled Callahan. "We gave up a lot. I think they called us nine seats down at one point and that's really hard to recover in a race that's of this pace.
In the last 500, Cal was up three seats over Stanford and Washington and the Huskies starting moving. With 15 strokes to go, in a dramatic turn, UW walked through California and took the championship by a second, relegating the Golden Bears to a silver medal finish.
"I think we always kept confidence in ourselves," said seven-seat Simon Taylor. "We never underestimated California. We know they're good. And with 500 meters to go, we were about three or four seats down and we knew we had a challenge on our hands, but at the same time, we knew that we could take it if we wanted it. At that point, we just kind of went internally, and just kind of thought about our boat and what we can do to go as fast as we can that last quarter of the race. We just gave it everything and it ended up turning in our favor."
Washington's second varsity eight picked up the Huskies' third national championship of the day, earning gold over Brown and California, setting up the potential sweep of the eights for Washington. Washington, Brown and Cal spent the first 500 meters battling for position. At the first marker, less than a length separated the three crews. Washington took control in the second half of the race, trying to open water over Brown. The Huskies finished the race in 5:51.47, over four seconds ahead of Brown. "We've been training for this all year," said second varsity eight bow man Stephen Connelly. "We went out there and instead of trying to race with everyone else, we stuck in our own boat today and we raced what we know how to do, what we've practiced every day. The race plan came through and worked well. We pushed on all three moves and we moved away with each and maintained speed and that's what separated us from second place, third place, fourth place. It wasn't some miraculous race, it was something that we know how to do. And we executed perfectly. The results gave us a win. We're really excited about it."
The freshman eight capped its undefeated season with a seven-second win over second-place Harvard. Washington was heavily favored to win the freshman eight race and the Huskies lived up to expectations, getting out to an early lead. By the midway point, the Huskies were up by open water, just dominating the field. Washington kept its blistering pace through the last thousand, finishing with several lengths of open water separating themselves and Harvard. The Huskies finished in 5:50.68.
"I think the hardest thing was keeping them on point for the last race, especially after they performed at Pac-10s and then you have two weeks or so when you're really just training," said freshman coach Luke McGee. "Sometimes it's tough because you have a good performance and then you just want to get to the racing again because you know that you're going pretty well. I think they did a really good job of preparing correctly for the last two weeks. I thought they had a great last two weeks, a great buildup to their last week."
"We came out here really to prove how good we are and prove that we could win it," McGee added. "Instead of coming in here with the approach of trying to hold on to something, we were just here to prove something. They did a good job with that."
The men's open four started things off for Washington, racing in the 9am grand final. The Huskies, the California Golden Bears and the Wisconsin Badgers each got off the line quickly, pacing the field. Wisconsin took an early lead, with Cal just behind and Washington trailing slightly back in third place. By the midway point, Wisconsin was half a length up on Cal, and Washington was only about a quarter of a length back from the Bears. In the last 750, Washington made a move, moving through Cal, who faded to third and battling Wisconsin. The Huskies pushed on, overtaking Wisco in the final sprint, winning the first national championship of the day for Washington in a time of 6:35.48.
Washington's varsity four had a strong race, taking a slight edge over Cal for the first 500 meters. The Bears took control in the second 500, building a lead they would not relinquish. Cal had a length over Washington with 500 meters to go. The Huskies made up ground in the last stretch, but they ran out of water, finishing second. Washington took silver in 6:34.00, a second and a half behind Cal.
"It's very important to the University of Washington to have a deep team and not just emphasize one eight," said Callahan. "We emphasize the whole team, from the guys in the last boat to the guys in the first boat. It's kind of our philosophy that the guy in the 3V is pushing the guy in the 1V. It's a tribute to everyone back at the boathouse who didn't make this trip, everyone who was here, the alumni. Everyone identifies with that in our culture at Washington."
IRA Championships Regatta
Day 3 Grand Final Results
Lake Natoma * Rancho Cordova
Men's Varsity Eight
1, Washington - 5:50.91; 2, California - 5:51.80; 3, Stanford - 5:56.45; 4, Brown - 5:58.73; 5, Harvard - 6:01.64; 6, Boston University - 6:02.68.
Men's Second Varsity Eight
1, Washington - 5:51.47; 2, Brown - 5:55.75; 3, California - 5:58.26; 4, Harvard - 6:00.04; 5, Wisconsin - 6:02.80.
Men's Freshman Eight
1, Washington - 5:50.68; 2, Harvard - 5:57.83; 3, Brown - 5:58.37; 4, California - 6:00.81; 5, Wisconsin - 6:03.39; 6, Cornell - 6:04.54.
Men's Varsity Four
1, California - 6:32.65; 2, Washington - 6:34.00; 3, Princeton - 6:38.19; 4, Wisconsin - 6:41.70; 5, Harvard - 6:45.49; 6, Georgetown - 6:53.29.
Men's Open Four
1, Washington - 6:35.48; 2, Wisconsin - 6:36.33; 3, California - 6:45.16; 4, Navy - 6:47.98; 5, Syracuse - 6:53.99; 6, Princeton - 6:56.14.