Washington Men Row at IRA Championships
May 28, 2007
THURSDAY - SATURDAY, May 31-June 1
UW at Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Championships
Cooper River / Cherry Hill, N.J.
The Washington men's rowing team makes its annual journey to Cherry Hill, N.J. for the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Championships. The 105th-annual IRA regatta is scheduled for Thursday, May 31 through Saturday, June 2 on the 2,000-meter Cooper River course. Four crews will represent the Huskies who have entries in the varsity eights, second varsity eights, freshman eights and open fours. Washington's freshman eight and open four crews won their respective championships last year. The Huskies finished fourth in last year's second varsity eight grand final and fifth in the varsity eight. UW is aiming for its 12th IRA varsity eight title. The Huskies' most recent varsity eight championship came in 1997, which marks the last time they went undefeated through the collegiate season.
Undefeated So Far
For the first time since 1997, the Washington varsity eight crew brings a perfect record to the IRA Regatta. That 1997 crew won the Huskies' last national championship in the featured event. This year's boat boasts wins over five crews currently ranked in the national top 20, including 3 California, No. 6 Wisconsin and No. 8 Stanford. Second-ranked Harvard, the 2003, 2004 and 2005 champion, is also undefeated this season.
Did You Know?
The IRA Regatta marks the second trip to the East Coast for the Washington rowers, who opened their season on Oct. 22, 2006 in Boston, Mass. The Huskies hope this week's cross-country journey proves as successful as the first as they were the top collegiate finishers at the Head of the Charles Regatta. UW's crew, comprised of seven athletes from the current varsity eight crew, was bested only by the U.S. National Team entry.
The IRA Field
The top 12 entries in the main eights races will be seeded prior to the heats ... Washington seeks to stop the stranglehold of California and Harvard, who have shared the last eight varsity eight titles. Defending champion Cal also won four straight from 1999-2002. Harvard held the crown three years, from 2003-2005 ... Harvard is undefeated and ranked No. 2. California is ranked No. 3, followed by No. 4 Yale, No. 5 Princeton, No. 6 Wisconsin, No. 7 Brown and No. 8 Stanford.
IRA Racing Format
Competition at the IRA Regatta consists of heats, repechage (second chance races), semifinals and finals. The repechage race assures that the three fastest crews advance to the semifinal round. The top two finishers in each of the four, first-day varsity eight and freshman eight heats advance to the semifinal round while the remaining crews are reassigned to repechage races. The repechage winners also advance to the semifinals, rounding out the 12-crew field. The top three crews in each semifinal advance into the six-boat grand final field.
The Washington Men's Entries
> Varsity Eight -- Undefeated entering IRA regatta for first time since 1997 ... Pac-10 champion ... Ranked No. 1 nationally in coaches poll ... Placed fifth at IRA in 2006 ... Silver medalist in 2003 & 2004 ... Huskies seek 12th IRA national title, the first since 1997.
> Second Varsity Eight -- Pac-10 champion ... Finished fourth at IRA in 2006 ... Won the 2004 and 2005 IRA titles.
> Freshman Eight -- Defending IRA champion ... 2007 Pac-10 runner-up ... Only losses came against Cal ... Won back-to-back IRA titles in 2001 and 2002.
> Open Four -- Two-time defending national champion ... UW has won four straight IRA titles in fours events ... Crew includes two freshmen and three sophomores.
The varsity eight competes for the Varsity Challenge Cup, the silver cup first presented in 1898. Washington has won the Cup 11 times, dating back to 1923, and most recently in 1997. The second varsity competes for the Kennedy Challenge Cup, originally presented in 1899. The Huskies claimed the cup in both 2004 and 2005. The freshman men race for the Steward's Cup, first awarded in 1900. Washington won the freshman eight championship last season, and during back-to-back years in 2001 and 2002. UW also captured the Steward's Cup in 1997, completing a sweep of the three premier eights race that season. Prior to the sweep in 1997, the Huskies last swept all three featured races back in 1950.
Washington won at least one event title at each of the last six IRA regattas. Husky crews won the freshman eight and open four titles in 2006, the second varsity eight and open four in 2005, the second varsity eight and varsity four in 2004, the varsity four in 2003, the freshman eight and open four in 2002 and the freshman eight and varsity pair championships in 2001.
The Husky men have won 11 IRA varsity eight titles, last winning the championship in 1997.
The top-ranked Washington varsity eight defeated five crews ranked in the top 20 of the current coaches poll, including No. 3 California, No. 6 Wisconsin, No. 8 Stanford, No. 12 Trinity College and No. 17 Oregon State.
The IRA Regatta Schedule
Thursday's IRA Men's Schedule, May 31 (all times Pacific):
4:36 a.m. -- Varsity Eights (heats)
5:36 a.m. -- Freshman Eights (heats)
6:24 a.m. -- Second Varsity Eights (heats)
7:48 a.m. -- Open Fours (heats)
1:00 p.m. -- Freshman Eights (repechage)
1:48 p.m. -- Varsity Eights (repechage)
Friday's IRA Men's Schedule, June 1 (all times Pacific):
5:00 a.m. -- Open Fours (repechage)
8:24 a.m. -- Second Varsity Eights (repechage)
9:00 a.m. -- Varsity Eights (semifinals)
10:00 a.m. -- Freshman Eights (semifinals)
Saturday's IRA Men's Schedule, June 2 (all times Pacific):
7:14 a.m. -- Open Fours (championship)
9:27 a.m. -- Freshman Eights (championship)
9:54 a.m. -- Second Varsity Eights (championship)
10:21 a.m. -- Varsity Eights (championship)
IRA Regatta History
The Intercollegiate Rowing Association Regatta is the oldest collegiate crew championship in the country, and remains the premier event for national rowing honors for college men. The first IRA Regatta, on June 24, 1895, was a four-miler between Columbia, the winner, Cornell and Pennsylvania. In 1923, Washington, coached by Rusty Callow, became the first Western school to win the IRA's featured varsity eight competition, followed by another victory in 1926. When Callow left Seattle to coach at Penn, he was succeeded by his assistant Al Ulbrickson, who continued the Huskies' winning ways with six IRA varsity eight titles in 1936, 1937, 1940, 1941, 1948 and 1950. His freshman, second varsity and varsity crews 'swept the river' in 1936, 1937, 1948 and 1950. Current Huskies coach Bob Ernst led his team to a modern-day sweep in 1997, when UW crews won all three races on the Cooper River, the permanent site of the IRA Championships since 1995.
Eighteen Washington athletes have prior IRA Championships experience, including everyone, but David Worley of the varsity eight. The varsity eight boat is comprised of six rowers who earned medals at previous IRA regattas. All but one member of the Huskies' second varsity eight have competed at previous IRA regattas, including four who have won gold. Obviously, the entire UW freshman eight crew has no previous IRA experience while the open four entry has two freshmen and one other newcomer.
The Washington varsity eight crew includes a trio of rowers who won gold medals at the under-23 World Championships while representing Canada. Sophomores Will Crothers (Kingston, Ontario) and Max Lang (Lumby, B.C.) rowed in UW's national champion freshman eight at the 2006 IRA regatta. Junior Rob Gibson (Kingston, Ontario) is in his second season with UW's varsity eight. Those three collected gold medals in an eight at the U-23 worlds during July in Belgium, one month before rowing Canada to a silver-medal performance in the four with coxswain at the 2006 World Rowing Championships in Eton, England.
Compiling the Crew
Three rowers return last year's IRA varsity eight crew: senior Aljosa Corovic (Belgrade, Serbia) and juniors Steve Full (Cumberland, Maine) and Rob Gibson (Kingston, Ontario). Also in the crew are four members of last year's national champion freshman eight; coxswain Katelin Snyder (Winter Park, Fla.), Will Crothers (Kingston, Ontario), Jessiah Johnson (Mercer Island, Wash.) and Max Lang (Lumby, B.C.). Completing the Huskies' top crew is a pair of senior newcomers who transferred to Washington in the fall. Heath Allen (Durango, Colo.) came from UW where he rowed one season, capped by an appearance at the 2006 IRA regatta. David Worley (Oak Harbor, Wash.) came from Washington State where he rowed the last two years.
About the Washington Men
The Pac-10 champion Huskies are undefeated and currently ranked No. 1 among varsity eights. Second-ranked Harvard, which won three straight national titles from 2003-05, is also undefeated. Washington opened the spring racing season with three wins over ranked crews at the Windermere Crew Classic (April 14-15) in the Bay Area. UW outraced Wisconsin, Trinity College and then-No. 2 Stanford. UW then won three consecutive home competitions. The Huskies beat No. 17 Oregon State (April 21) by 15 seconds before defeating California (April 28) by a boat length in a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2. On May 5, UW handily defeated Purdue and the University of Waikato from New Zealand to win the Windermere Cup (May 5). UW outraced Cal, Stanford and Oregon State again at the Pac-10 Championships (May 13) to capture its first conference varsity eight crown since 2004.
Quoting Coach Bob Ernst
On the varsity eight crew -- 'We're going to be tough to beat. I think Harvard is going to be tough to beat and we have to beat Cal again. It's going to be great racing. We have a better team this year. We have five world champions in the boat. They are racers. You don't get to be a world champion, and stand in the middle of the dock with a gold medal around your neck, if you are not a pretty tough racer. That's all to their advantage. All the kids that are world champions are the youngest ones. I thought we would be pretty good this year and they're pretty good. They've had a few hiccups along the way as far as injuries and health and stuff like that. But, so far they've been able to keep it together and keep making progress. It's a completely new boat compared to last year. There are only three guys the same as last year, Rob Gibson, Steve Full and Aljosa (Corovic). These guys just want to race.'
'It is three days of really tough, really intense racing. If you can't race three days hard then you not going to be very successful. So our whole focus is getting in the top two places in the heat race. It is just going to be a wonderful regatta, there are going to be so many really good crews. It is just going to be really intense and really interesting.'
The Men's Staff
Bob Ernst is in his 33rd season on staff, his 20th as the men's head coach. Ernst seeks to direct the Huskies' varsity eight to their first national championship since 1997. Serving as the men's freshman coach for the third season is Michael Callahan, a former Husky rower (1993-96) who was a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team.
Projected Washington Men's Lineups for 2007 IRA Championships
(subject to change)
cox - Katelin Snyder (So. / Winter Park, Fla. / Winter Park)
stroke - Will Crothers (So. / Kingston, Ontario / Kingston C.V.I.)
7 - Heath Allen (Sr. / Durango, Colo. / Durango)
6 - Aljosa Corovic (Sr. / Belgrade, Serbia / Zemun)
5 - Rob Gibson (Jr. / Kingston, Ontario / Kingston C.V.I.)
4 - David Worley (Sr. / Oak Harbor, Wash. / Oak Harbor / Washington State)
3 - Steve Full (Jr. / Cumberland, Maine / Tabor Academy)
2 - Jessiah Johnson (So. / Mercer Island, Wash. / Mercer Island HS)
bow - Max Lang (So. / Lumby, B.C. / Shawnigan Lake School)
Second Varsity Eight
cox - Micah Perrin (Sr. / Lynnwood, Wash. / Meadowdale)
stroke - Bart-Jan Caron (So. / Millbay, B.C. / Shawnigan Lake School)
7 - Lowell Neal (So. / Los Alamos, N.M. / Los Alamos)
6 - Andrew Beaton (Jr. / Spokane, Wash. / Mead)
5 - Trevor Mollenkopf (So. / Marin, Calif. / Drake)
4 - Drew Fowler (Jr. / Kent, Wash. / Kentwood)
3 - Derek DeVries (Jr. / Granger, Wash. / Sunnyside Christian)
2 - David VanBolt (So. / Ann Arbor, Mich. / Huron)
bow - Alan Oriard (Sr. / Corvallis, Ore. / Crescent Valley)
cox - Michael Welly (Fr. / Everett, Wash. / Everett)
stroke - Aaron Luke (Fr. / Nanaimo, B.C. / Claremont)
7 - Graham Oglend (Fr. / Shawnigan Lake, B.C. / Frances Kelsey)
6 - Roko Svast (Fr. / Split, Croatia / 5th Gymnasium)
5 - Blaise Didier (Fr. / San Francisco, Calif. / John O'Connell)
4 - Simon Taylor (Fr. / Hamilton, New Zealand / Hamilton Boy's)
3 - Dane Robbins (Fr. / Mercer Island, Wash. / Mercer Island)
2 - Kit Culbert (Fr. / Kirkland, Wash. (International Community)
bow - Maxwell Weaver (Fr. / Snohomish, Wash. / Snohomish)
cox - Leah Downey (So. / Seattle, Wash. / Seattle Prep)
stroke - Peter Carlson (So. / Orangevale, Calif. / Bella Vista)
3 - Jamie North (Fr. / Seattle, Wash. / O'Dea)
2 - David Goulet (Fr. / Everett, Wash. / Kamiak)
bow - Mike Flight (So. / Ontario, Canada / E.L. Crossley)