Freshman Eight, Varsity Four Win Gold Medals at IRA Championships
June 1, 2002
Camden, New Jersey - Washington's freshman eight-oared crew completed its second consecutive undefeated season when it successfully defended its title in the Stewards Cup at the100th Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) National Championships on the Cooper River. Washington's varsity four also captured a gold medal while the varsity eight and junior varsity eight each earned bronze medals on the final day of the 2002 season.
Washington was the only school among the top contenders to earn medals in all four races it entered. The Huskies' freshman crew also ends the year as the only undefeated heavyweight eight in the country, among varsity, junior varsity and freshman crews.
California's top-ranked varsity eight extended its reign as national champions, capturing the Varsity Challenge Cup, the premier race of the regatta, for the fourth consecutive year. Eastern Sprints champion Wisconsin earned the silver medal in its first appearance in the grand final since 1999 and only its third appearance in the last 10 years. For Washington's varsity eight, it marked the seventh appearance on the medal platform, including its title in 1997, in the last eight years.
'Obviously we are disappointed with the results in the varsity and jayvee, but we are still a very good team and we've got very fast crews,' Huskies head coach Bob Ernst said following the varsity race. 'There are going to be growing pains anytime you are trying to get to the very top. It just wasn't in the cards today.'
The varsity eights raced in a strong tailwind and choppy water and Cal jumped off the line fast. Washington, Cal and Wisconsin were all within a deck of one another over the first 500-meters before the Bears started moving in the second 500. The Bears took a length lead with Washington and Wisconsin battling behind them. The three crews quickly put open water between themselves and the remaining three; Oregon State, Princeton and Dartmouth. The Huskies took a move just before the halfway mark but the Badgers continued to hang on as the two crews battled over the second half of the race. Cal had a three-quarter length lead at that point and was six seats up at the finish line, covering the 2,000-meter course in a time of 5 minutes, 26.81 seconds. Wisconsin, sprinting through the final 300-meters crossed a length behind at 5:28.32 and Washington finished five seats back at 5:30.25.
'It's a bit of a conspicuous day to have your worst row of the year,' senior two seat Chris Hawkins (Seattle, Wash.) commented. 'We just really didn't row well together. There was a strong tailwind and in conditions like that you have to stay quick and stay together and we might have been quick but we didn't stay together. We didn't handle the conditions. The conditions handled us.
'It's not the way you want to end your senior year,' Hawkins continued, 'especially when you've worked so hard all season long. This wasn't the way it was supposed to go. Maybe in the future, with some hindsight, I'll be able to look back on it with a bit more gracious attitude. But right now it's tough, to be so close.'
The Kennedy Challenge Cup, the junior varsity trophy, also went to California as the Bears posted a length lead and a time of 5:36.32 in the victory. The Huskies struggled through the middle part of the race but used an impressive sprint over the final 500-meters to get back into medal contention. Washington and Cornell, the crews that had a photo finish in heat racing Thursday, once again were separated by two-10ths of a second, only this time it was the Big Red Bears who got the upper hand as Cornell won the silver medal at 5:38.7 and Washington took the bronze at 5:38.91.
The Varsity Challenge Cup and Kennedy Challenge Cup races marked the final appearance in a Washington uniform for six oarsmen. In the varsity eight, team captain Matt Deakin (San Francisco, Calif.) closed his collegiate career with a pair of bronze medals after earning one last year as well as this year. Two seat Chris Hawkins (Seattle, Wash.) who had never rowed prior to joining the Washington team as a freshman and who earned his spot in the varsity boat this season, finishes with two bronze medals (2000, 2002) and a silver (2001).
The junior varsity crew featured four seniors in their final collegiate competition; seven seat Matt Farrer (Savannah, Ga.), six seat Peter Dembicki (West Vancouver, B.C.), three seat Brendan Patterson (St. Louis, Mo.) and two seat Jonathan Burns (Vancouver, Wash.). Between them, the men have earned two silver and four bronze medals since 1999. The senior class also includes Andy Altman, a gold medalist in the pair in 2001 and again this year in the varsity four.
The Steward's Cup, successfully retained by the Washington freshmen, was first presented at the 1900 IRA Regatta on the Hudson River. This year marked the 12th time since that first presentation that the Cup has gone to a Washington crew.
The Huskies flew off the starting line and had a three-quarter length lead on Navy, Michigan and California at 6-meters then cleared all crews except Navy by 750-meters in. They took open water quickly though, a quarter length, at the 800-meter mark with a race too close to call being waged behind them. Michigan closed the gap over the final sprint but Washington had a five-seat cushion at the finish line and won the trophy in a time 5:39.6. The Wolverines were second at 5:41.94 and Princeton was third at 5:42.36. California was left off the medal stand in fourth place at 5:42.97.
'It's a pretty amazing feeling,' said freshman four seat Kyle Larson (Mt. Vernon, Wash.), who completed his first year in the sport of rowing as a national champion. 'We just put it all together today. In the last 300-meters you're thinking, 'just keep going, just don't screw up' and you're thinking 'it hurts.' A year ago, I had no idea I would be where I am now. It's amazing. I've found a little niche and I like it.'
'We've worked nine months for this one race,' two seat John Heylin added. 'It's almost like our child. We conceived this race. This was (coach) Fred Honebein's child and it was born as we crossed the finish line. It was amazing.'
The varsity four started the day for Washington by shattering the event's course record en route to its grand final victory. The Huskies shook off a rocky start and raced to the finish line in a time of 6:17.38, eclipsing the old mark of 6:29.26 set by Princeton in 1996. Washington battled Wisconsin, Army and California early and had open water on the field by the halfway mark. California made a late move to finish second, at 6:21.62, about a length and a half behind Washington.
The four features Altman in the three seat and junior stroke Jeff Jorgensen who shattered a course record and won a gold medal as a pair at the 2001 IRA. Joining them are junior coxswain Melissa Wengard and freshmen Dan McKeegan and Evan Galloway, all of whom earned a gold medal in their first national championship appearance.
'I couldn't think of a better way to finish off my collegiate career,' Altman said following the race. 'It's especially nice after Pac-10s this year, because I really felt like we could have raced better. Just getting another chance to race again was amazing. We wanted one more chance to go out there and lay it down. Even if we didn't win, we just wanted to have the best race we could. I think we did that. It's an amazing feeling right now.'
100th IRA Regatta (Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships)
Cooper River (2,000-meters)
Camden, New Jersey
Sunny, hot, increasing tailwind through the afternoon
June 1, 2002
Grand Finals Results
Kennedy Challenge Cup (varsity eight)1 California 5:26.812 Wisconsin 5:28.323 WASHINGTON 5:30.254 Oregon St 5:36.585 Princeton 5:37.296 Navy 5:39.30
UW lineup: cox: Ryan Marks, stroke-Lucas Ahlstrand, 7-Marko Petrovic, 6-John Lorton, 5-Matt Deakin, 4-Sam Burns, 3-Dusan Nikolic, 2-Chris Hawkins, bow-Kevin Smythe.
Kennedy Challenge Cup (junior varsity eight)1 California 5:36.522 Cornell 5:38.73 WASHINGTON 5:38.914 Wisconsin 5:39.215 Princeton 5:40.286 Brown 5:47.64
UW lineup: cox: Chris O'Brien, stroke-Charles Minnett, 7-Matt Farrer, 6-Peter Dembicki, 5-Andy Derrick, 4-Ian Sawyer, 3-Brendan Patterson, 2-Jonathan Burns, bow-Ian Harrison.
Steward's Cup (freshman eight)1 WASHINGTON 5:39.602 Michigan 5:41.943 Princeton 5:42.364 California 5:42.975 Navy 5:45.016 Dartmouth 5:48.04
UW lineup: cox: Greg King, stroke-Conor Musgrave, 7-Scott Gault, 6-Ante Kusurin, 5-Giuseppe Lanzone, 4-Kyle Larson, 3-Nick Hudson, 2-John Heylin, bow-Matt Kopicky.
Open Varsity Four with Coxswain1 WASHINGTON 6:17.382 California 6:21.623 Wisconsin 6:25.744 Army 6:33.465 G Mason 6:37.516 Marietta 6:38.56
UW lineup: cox: Melissa Wengard, stroke-Jeff Jorgensen, 3-Andy Altman, 2-Dan McKeegan, bow-Evan Galloway.