Huskies Win All Five Heats To Kick Off IRAs
May 31, 2012
CHERRY HILL, N.J. - Washington had a terrific start to the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships on Thursday morning, with all five boats winning their heats to advance to the semifinals.
Ranked No. 1 in the nation, the Huskies held true to form in a series of powerful performances on the 2,000-meter course on the Cooper River. The morning started with a win by the varsity eight and concluded with a come-from-behind effort by the open four.
UW's flagship boat has won each of their races by open water this season, and the varsity eight was off to a fast start at the IRAs. Coxed by Sam Ojserkis and stroked by Dusan Milovanovic, the Huskies rowed smoothly into the race's pole position by the 500 meter mark. Princeton refused to cede too much of a lead to the Huskies, remaining in contact with the Huskies all the way down the course. Washington's winning time of 5:45.84 was the fastest of the afternoon by any of the varsity eight boats.
"We wanted to move on and win the race, and we did that," Ojserkis said. "We want to progress every day, and then make sure our best race is on Saturday. But we have a good foundation as well as some stuff to build on."
For Washington, the goal of the afternoon was to make the semifinals. Only the top two crews advance, leaving the rest to try their luck again in the repechage. And while it's possible to race your way back into the semis, the second row often leaves crews exhausted. One surprise of the morning was California's top varsity, which finished third in a late sprint to Harvard and Boston University.
The Huskies had perhaps their strongest effort in the second varsity eight, cruising to an open-water win over second-place Brown. Washington's time of 5:50.41 was also the fastest of any of the 16 competing 2V8 crews, and five seconds ahead of Bruno. Another strategic row gave the UW freshmen a win in their heat. Even after securing a sizable lead, the Huskies continued to put distance between their opponents. Although Washington backed off the throttle at the finish, its time of 5:54.51 was well ahead of Brown.
This was a similar script to how the varsity four handled their heat. The Huskies lead over Brown was open water by the midway point, a margin they held going into the finish. UW came across with a time of 6:37.99, which was almost six seconds faster than No. 2 Brown.
The only time the Huskies trailed came in the open four, as UW made up an open-water deficit at the midway point to overtake Wisconsin, utilizing a well-called "Power 20." Following the demanding effort, several of the Husky rowers remained slumped on their oars, exhausted, albeit satisfied with a razor-thin victory over the Badgers (6:23.18 to 6:23.72). With the format of the Open 4 sending just the winner straight on to the Grand Final, the Huskies avoided having to race in the repechage on Friday.
Because this is a three-day event, the Huskies wanted to make sure to conserve energy for the long haul. Temperatures took a respite from the normally swampy conditions of South Jersey this time of year, and the only hindrance for crews was a slight cross breeze that forced some lane changes by officials.
Second Varsity Eights