Washington Varsity Eight Seeks to Defend IRA Rowing Title
June 2, 2008
INTERCOLLEGIATE ROWING ASSOCIATION (IRA) CHAMPIONSHIPS
Thursday - Saturday, June 5 - 7
Cooper River Cherry Hill, N.J.
Racing Schedule (Pacific Times listed)
THURSDAY, JUNE 5
4:36 am -- Varsity 8 - heats
5:24 am -- 2nd Varsity 8 - heats
6:24 am -- Freshman 8 - heats
9:00 am -- Varsity 4 - time trial
9:30 am -- Freshman 4 - time trial
12:00 pm -- Freshman 8 - repechage
1:00 pm -- 2nd Varsity 8 - repechage
1:48 pm -- Varsity 8 - repechage
FRIDAY, JUNE 6
5:48 am -- Freshman 4 - semifinals
8:12 am --- 2nd Varsity 8 - semifinals
9:00 am -- Varsity 8 - semifinals
10:00 am -- Freshman 8 - semifinals
10:48 am -- Varsity 4 - semifinals
SATURDAY, JUNE 7
6:26 am -- Freshman 4 - finals
7:38 am -- Varsity 4 - finals
9:27 am -- Freshman 8 - finals
9:54 am -- 2nd Varsity 8 - finals
10:21 am -- Varsity 8 - finals
The Washington men's rowing team embarks on its annual journey to Cherry Hill, N.J. for the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Championships. The 106th-annual IRA regatta is scheduled for Thursday, June 5 through Saturday, June 7 on the 2,000-meter Cooper River course. Five crews will represent the Huskies who have entries in the varsity eight, second varsity eight, freshman eight, varsity four and freshman four events. Defending champion UW is seeking to win back-to-back varsity eight national championships for the first time since 1940 and 1941. The Huskies have won 12 IRA varsity eight titles overall.
Washington's varsity eight, second varsity eight and open four crews won their respective championships last year. The Huskies finished third in last year's freshman eight grand final.
For the second straight season, Washington's top boat enters the IRA Regatta with a perfect record. Last year's crew won the varsity eight championship to cap the school's first undefeated season since 1997. UW's varsity eight crew won it's last 16 races, including all six this season. The Huskies' last loss came in the grand final of the 2006 IRA Regatta, when they finished fifth.
IRA Racing Format
Competition at the IRA Regatta consists of heats, time trials, repechage (second chance races), semifinals and finals. The repechage race assures that the three fastest crews advance to the semifinal round. The time trials in the varsity and freshman four races are conducted to ensure that the top crews reach the semifinals because pre-regatta seeding is difficult in those events. 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.
IRA Fast Facts
The top 12 entries in the main eights races will be seeded prior to the heats ... A different school won the varsity eight title in each of the last three years: Washington (2007), California (2006) and Harvard (2005) ... The Huskies are ranked No. 1 in the coaches poll, but their nine first-place votes are matched by No. 2 Wisconsin.
The Men's Trophies
The varsity eight competes for the Varsity Challenge Cup, the silver trophy first presented in 1898. Washington has won the Cup 12 times, dating back to 1923. The second varsity competes for the Kennedy Challenge Cup, originally presented in 1899. The Huskies claimed that award in 2004, 2005 and 2007. The freshman men race for the Steward's Cup, first awarded in 1900. Washington won the 2006 freshman eight championship. UW completed a sweep of the three premier eights races in 1997. Prior to that performance, the Huskies last swept all three featured races back in 1950.
Washington won at least one event title at each of the last seven IRA Regattas. Husky crews won the varsity eight, second varsity eight and open four titles in 2007, the freshman eight and open four 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 won their 12th IRA varsity eight title last year. They are vying for their first back-to-back national championships since 1940 and 1941.
The top-ranked Washington varsity eight defeated nine crews ranked in the top 20 of the current coaches poll, including No. 4 Princeton, No. 5 California, No. 6 Yale, No. 7 Northeastern, No. 8 Stanford, No. 10 Navy, No. 11 Harvard, No. 13 Syracuse and No. 14 Oregon State.
Washington Men's Boat-by-Boat Preview
> Varsity Eight -- Ranked No. 1 ... Undefeated entering IRA for second straight season ... Pac-10 Champion ... Won last year's title and seeks first back-to-back IRA crowns since 1940-41 ... Won it's last 16 races, including six this season ... UW's last loss came in the grand final of the 2006 IRA Regatta ... Four members of last year's national championship lineup are in the current crew ... Huskies seek their 13th IRA title.
> Second Varsity Eight -- Defending IRA champion ... Won three of the last four national championships, in 2004, 2005 and 2007 ... 2008 Pac-10 champion.
> Freshman Eight -- Collected the bronze medal at last year's IRA Regatta ... Won the 2006 national championship ... Undefeated in seven races this season ... Pac-10 champion ... Won back-to-back IRA championships in 2001 and 2002.
> Varsity Four -- The Huskies bring a varsity four for the first time since 2004 ... UW won back-to-back IRA varsity four championships in 2003 and 2004 ... UW won the open four titles in 2005, 2006 and 2007 ... The open four crews contained freshman rowers, which varsity crews are not allowed at the IRA Regatta ... The Huskies won six straight IRA championships in four events, every year from 2002-2007.
> Freshman Four -- Thursday's time trial will be the inaugural race for this crew ... This is believed to be the first appearance by a Husky crew in the freshman four event.
About the UW Men
The Huskies' varsity eight men's crew opened the year ranked No. 1 in the preseason coaches poll produced by USRowing and remained there through the current rankings (May 21). UW garnered nine of 18 first-place votes, with No. 2 Wisconsin receiving the other half. The lofty ranking isn't surprising as the Huskies are coming off an undefeated 2007 season, capped by their first victory at the IRA Championships since 1997. Four members of last year championship varsity eight crew return, including junior coxswain Katelin Snyder (Winter Park, Fla.), junior Will Crothers (Kingston, Ontario), senior Heath Allen (Durango, Colo.) and junior Jessiah Johnson (Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island). Two of last year's varsity rowers, Rob Gibson and Max Lang, are red-shirting the year while training for a berth on the Canadian Olympic Team. Two varsity eight rowers graduated, Aljosa Corovic and David Worley. Three rowers in UW's top boat (Simon Taylor, Blaise Didier, Roko Svast) are from last season's bronze-medal freshman crew and junior Lowell Neal was a member of UW's national champion second varsity boat. The Huskies won their last 16 varsity eight races, including two during a 2008 season-opening triumph at the San Diego Crew Classic (Apr. 5-6). UW defeated No. 15 Oregon State on April 19 in Seattle and posted an open-water win at No. 4 California on April 26. In the rematch at the Pac-10 Championships on May 18, UW rallied to edge Cal. In its final home outing, the Huskies varsity eight defeated No. 11 Navy and the under-23 national team from Poland at the Windermere Cup, May 3 in Seattle.
The Men's Staff
Michael Callahan is now the men's head coach after three successful seasons as the freshman coach. He directed the Huskies' freshman crew to the 2006 national championship and bronze-medal performances in 2005 and 2007. Lucas McGee takes over the UW freshman coaching duties after holding the same position the previous three years at Brown.
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. Bob Ernst ended a 20-year coaching run last year with a national championship. Ernst, who now coaches the UW women, 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.
Washington's contingent includes 23 athletes with prior IRA Championships experience, including everyone from the varsity and second varsity boats. Sixteen of the competing athletes have collected a combined total of 22 gold medals from previous IRA Regattas. UW's two-time national champions are: Katelin Snyder, Will Crothers, Jessiah Johnson, Lowell Neal, Trevor Mollenkopf and Bart-Jan Caron.
Projected Washington Lineups for the IRA Championships
cox - Katelin Snyder (Jr./Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park)
stroke - Will Crothers (Jr./Kingston, Ontario/Kingston C.V.I.)
7 - Heath Allen (Sr./Durango, Colo./Durango/Colorado)
6 - Jessiah Johnson (Jr./Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island)
5 - Simon Taylor (So./Hamilton, New Zealand/Hamilton Boy's)
4 - Blaise Didier (So./San Francisco, Calif./John O'Connell)
3 - Roko Svast (So./Split, Croatia/5th Gymnasium)
2 - Toby Dankbaar (Sr./Sydney, Australia/St. Joseph's)
bow - Lowell Neal (Jr./Los Alamos, N.M./Los Alamos)
Second Varsity Eight
cox - Micah Perrin (Sr./Lynnwood, Wash./Meadowdale)
stroke - Graham Oglend (So./Shawnigan Lake, B.C./Frances Kelsey)
7 - Asa Bergdahl (Jr./Issaquah, Wash./Issaquah)
6 - Trevor Mollenkopf (Jr./Marin, Calif./Sir Francis Drake)
5 - Drew Fowler (Sr./Kent, Wash./Kentwood/Western Washington)
4 - Tad McCrea (Jr./Marin, Calif./Sir Francis Drake)
3 - Andrew Beaton (Sr./Spokane, Wash./Mead)
2 - Steve Full (Sr./Cumberland, Maine/Tabor Academy)
bow - Bart-Jan Caron (Jr./Millbay, B.C./Shawnigan Lake School)
cox - Leah Downey (Jr./Seattle, Wash./Seattle Prep)
stroke - Stephen Connolly (Jr./Calgary, Alberta/Shawnigan Lake)
3 - Dane Robbins (So./Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island)
2 - Kit Culbert (So./Kirkland, Wash./International Community School)
bow - David VanBolt (Jr./Ann Arbor, Mich./Hamilton Boy's)
cox - Alex Chalk (Fr./Lake Stevens, Wash./Lake Stevens)
stroke - Hans Struzyna (Fr./Kirkland, Wash./Bellevue Christian)
7 - Noah O'Connell (Fr./Victoria, B.C./Brentwood School)
6 - Nenad Bulicic (Fr./Belgrade, Serbia)
5 - Anthony Jacob (Fr./Vancouver, B.C./Vancouver College)
4 - Matt Zapel (Fr./Vashon, Wash./Vashon Island)
3 - Ty Otto (Fr./Burke, Va./Thomas Jefferson)
2 - Bede Clarke (Fr./Wallabi Point, Australia/Newington College)
bow - Trevor Walchenbach (Fr./Seattle, Wash./Roosevelt)
cox - Michelle Darby (Fr./North Andover, Mass./Phillips Academy)
stroke - Niles Garratt (Fr./Lake Foest Park, Wash./Shorecrest)
3 - Bjoern Sbierski (Fr./Frankfurt, Germany/Freiburg)
2 - Tyler Emsky (Fr./Fall City, Wash./Mt. Si)
bow - Chris Rinker (Fr./Seattle, Wash./Garfield)