Herald news services
Both the University of Washington men’s and women’s varsity eight crews are racing for national titles today, the men competing at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association championships in West Windsor, N.J., and the women rowing at the NCAA Division I championships at Eagle Creek Park, Ind.
In all, seven Husky men’s and women’s shells have shots at winning national titles today. The UW men, who have five shells in national title races, also are in contention for their eighth consecutive Ten Eyck Trophy, awarded to the school that finishes with the most overall points at the IRA competition.
“When you put five boats into the grand finals, I think that’s a pretty good indication of where the (men’s) program is,” men’s head coach Michael Callahan said. “We’re a program that stresses that every guy matters and that every guy pulls on the same oar. I’m proud that everyone made the final.”
Also competing for national titles at the men’s competition are the UW’s second-varsity eight, third-varsity eight, varsity four and freshman eight boats. Each won their semifinal races to advance to today’s Grand Finals.
In the women’s competion, the UW varsity eight, which finshed third in its semifinal, is joined in the Grand Finals by the Husky varsity four, which advanced by finishing second in its race.
“It’s great to see the varsity and the four in the final,” women’s head coach Bob Ernst said. “The thing that strikes me is just the quality and caliber of this regatta. I’ve talked to a lot of coaches and a lot of folks from around the world and this is probably the pre-imminent regatta in the world right now as far as breadth and quality of competition. It’s really, really good.”
The UW men’s varsity eight advanced to today’s Grand Final by placing second in its semifinal race. The Huskies rowed the windy 2,000-meter course on Lake Mercer in five minutes, 49.863 seconds, finishing about two seconds behind Pac-12 rival California (5:47.397). The Huskies had beaten the Golden Bears twice previously this season, and the UW’s semifinal time was about 12 seconds slower than its performance in Friday’s heat.
At the race start, the Huskies fell behind Cal and Brown. Washington overtook the Ivy Leaguers near the midway point, but Cal was able to hold off the Huskies’ charge. All three boats advanced to today’s Grand Final along with Yale, Princeton and Harvard.
“Today was pretty challenging for everybody,” Callahan said. “That wind was blowing up and changing directions.”