Washington Wins Two National Titles at IRA Regatta
June 4, 2005
CHERRY HILL, N.J. - Washington's junior varsity eight successfully defended its national title and the open four crew won its grand final while the varsity eight finished fourth in the featured race Saturday during the final day of the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) men's national championships on the Cooper River.
The two event titles matched last season's haul as the most for the Huskies' fleet of crews since 1997 when they swept top IRA honors in three events. The two victorious boats continued a streak that has seen at least one Washington crew win a national title during each of the last five years.
The Huskies sent a freshman eight crew to the medal platform for the first time since they won back-to-back championships in 2001 and 2002. The UW freshmen collected the bronze medal. Their third-place performance was a drastic improvement from last year's 14th-place showing.
Top-ranked Harvard remained undefeated in varsity eight competition and won its third consecutive national title. The Crimson were three-seat victors over Princeton, followed by California and Washington which entered the regatta seeded fourth.
The top-seeded Husky junior varsity came from three seats down to edge Cornell at the finish line. Washington's second boat takes home the Kennedy Challenge Cup trophy for the second straight season, the 20th time overall.
The victory gave junior varsity bow man Evan Galloway his fourth gold medal in as many visits to the IRA regatta. The senior, a product of Bainbridge Island (Wash.) High School, won a national title with the open four crew in 2002 before rowing in UW's back-to-back champion varsity four in 2003 and 2004.
Galloway is believed to be the first athlete in UW history to collect four gold medals at the IRA Championships. The record book shows seven other crew competitors who collected three gold medals, including current junior varsity rower Matt Kopicky. A graduate of Seattle's Ballard High School, Kopicky was on last year's winning junior varsity entry and the 2002 freshman eight champions.
Three of UW's previous three-time gold medalists were unable to compete in the championships during their senior season of 1942 as the IRA Regatta was cancelled due to the war. Coxswain Vic Fomo and rowers John Bracken and Ted Garhart each earned three gold medals between 1939-41 and never lost a race during their collegiate careers.
UW sustained its success in the smaller boats, striking gold in a four-oared event for the fourth consecutive year. Washington won the varsity four championship at the 2003 and 2004 IRA regattas and the open four in 2002. This year's UW four competed in the open race in which guidelines stipulate that each crew must contain at least one freshman rower.
West Coast powers Washington and California were the only two schools to advance a crew into grand finals for each of the three major eight-oared events: the varsity, junior varsity and freshman races.
"You look at how many universities here had a top-four finish in the varsity, the jayvee, the freshman and the four. We've got a good program," UW head coach Bob Ernst pointed out, adding that his varsity eight has been a consistent contender. "Since 1995 we've been fourth twice and every other time we've gone to the awards dock. Nobody else here can say that. I'm proud of these guys."
The Huskies were the national runners-up in the varsity eight race in each of the last two years.
California burst out to an early lead while the rest of the field was tightly packed. Harvard and Princeton made a move before the midway mark and overtook the Golden Bears in third quarter of the 2,000-meter race. Those two Ivy League members raced to the finish while Cal settled into third place. Northeastern surged at the finish, but UW held them off for fourth place.
Harvard posted a winning time of 5-minutes, 31.68-seconds followed by Princeton (5:32.94), California (5:35.9), Washington (5:37.70), Northeastern (5:37.97) and Boston University (5:49.92).
"Today we didn't row our best," said senior Brett Newlin (Riverton, Wyo.), UW's No. 4 seat. "Not to have your best race on the last day, that's really tough seeing your varsity four and jayvee eight doing so well and rising to the challenge and having the varsity not quite following suit."
The Huskies' junior varsity capped its eventful week with a championship. UW's second boat had its 18-race unbeaten streak stopped Thursday with a second-place heat finish and was defeated again Friday, this time by two other crews.
The third-place semifinal result placed UW in lane five for the grand final, far away from the favored crews that performed better in preliminary rounds. Coach Ernst credited his crew with putting the early results behind them and focusing on Saturday's race.
"The guys showed some real courage. They didn't get disappointed and they rowed a perfect race."
It took a perfect race to defeat Cornell whose bow ball was even with UW's deck at the finish. The margin of victory was 22-hundreths of a second. Washington clocked a time of 5:45.22 and Cornell finished in 5:45.44. Wisconsin claimed the third-place spot in 5:49.54.
Senior coxswain Greg King (Manassas, Va.) wasn't exactly certain at what point his Huskies overtook Cornell.
"It must have been within the last 10 or 15 strokes. We were almost dead even with Cornell all the way coming down the course from 500 meters in. We won the race that counts and that's what matters."
The torrid sprint capped a comeback from a three-seat deficit. Cornell paced the entire pack for the first 1,500 meters before receiving a challenge from the Huskies.
Washington staged an even bigger comeback in the open four grand final. Northeastern, which had beaten UW by over seven seconds in Thursday's heat race, again had a seemingly comfortable advantage.
"It's amazing to win the championship. We knew we had a chance, even after the heat we knew we were in it," junior stroke Craig Tyler (Camas, Wash.) exclaimed. "We just never got down and kept getting faster throughout the tournament. That's what they key is, you have to get faster every race."
Trailing by open water with 1,000 meters to go, UW started its closing sprint much earlier than usual. The Huskies began narrowing the gap with 650 meters to go, walked past Northeastern during the final 400 meters and then held on for a one-seat triumph.
"They put together a last 1,000 meters that was the best they have rowed all year. In order to win the national championship you need to do that," said Colin Sykes who coaches the Huskies' fours.
Washington crossed the finish line in 6:37.66, just ahead of the 6:38.81 turned in by Northeastern. Georgetown was third in 6:42.71.
California cruised to a boat-length victory in the freshman eights, going wire-to-wire. The Bears completed an undefeated season, finishing with a time of 5:49.94. The Huskies occupied second place for much of the race before dropping behind Harvard. The Crimson were second in 5:53.71 and UW third in 5:54.04.
IRA MEN'S ROWING CHAMPIONSHIPS
GRAND FINAL RESULTS
UW lineup: cox-Stephen Hertzfeld, stroke-Kiel Petersen, 7-Dusan Nikolic, 6-Aljosa Corovic, 5-Colin Phillips, 4-Brett Newlin, 3-Giuseppe Lanzone, 2-Kyle Larson, bow-Ante Kusurin.
UW lineup: cox-Greg King, stroke-Scott Gault, 7-Scott Schmidt, 6-Cooper Lange, 5-Martin Rogulja, 4-Jacob Pettit, 3-Matt Kopicky, 2-Tyler Smith, bow-Evan Galloway.
UW lineup: cox-Dean Pearson, stroke-Rob Gibson, 7-Andrew Beaton, 6-Steve Full, 5-Christopher Aylard, 4-Thomas McCrea, 3-Drew Fowler, 2-Derek DeVries, bow-Toby Dankbaar.
UW lineup: cox-Mary Katherine Langlais, stroke-Craig Tyler, 3-Adam Van Winkle, 2-Luke Carney, bow-Dustin Kraus.