Men's Varsity Eight Wins Third-Consecutive IRA Championship

June 2, 2001

The No. 1 ranked Cal men's varsity eight won its third-consecutive IRA National Championship in Cherry Hill, NJ, June 1. Cal raced from the front all the way down the 2000-meter Cooper River racecourse to cross the line in 5 minutes and 34 seconds--three seconds faster than runner-up Princeton. The Bears capped another undefeated and secured Steve Gladstone a ninth IRA Championship. Cal's JV eight and varsity four won IRA titles of their own and the freshman eight took bronze. It was the Bears 12th varsity IRA title moving Cal into a tie with Navy at No. 2 on the all-time list.

'I'm very, very happy,' said coach Gladstone. 'All our crews performed well. They rowed precise and courageous races. It was a great race by the varsity.'

In the varsity challenge cup, Cal bolted off the stake boats at 46 strokes per minute, but Princeton had a better start and a slight advantage. By the time the Bears settled into it racing cadence of 37 at 400 meters, they were working on a half-length advantage. Cal had a length on third-place Washington at 800 and Princeton was dropping off Cal's pace. By the 1000, Cal had a length on both the Tigers and Huskies and were readying themselves for the sprint to the finish. UW caught Princeton and then relinquished a two-seat advantage in the battle for the silver. In the end, Cal took gold, Princeton silver and UW Bronze. Cornell Brown and Northeastern rounded out the field.

'Before the race we decided that we were going to go for it at the 1200,' said coxswain Michael Vallarelli. 'We had a solid start and gradually settled in to race pace which was a bit higher than usual. With 800 meters to go we sat up and drove to the line.'

'That was it,' said junior Scott Frandsen. 'That was flat out for 2000 meters.'

In the JV event, Princeton, Cal, Washington and Wisconsin led off the line, but Cal took had a one-seat lead through 500 meters. The Bears pressed and grew that lead to a quarter-length through the middle thousand as Brown and Washington tussled for third position. Over the last 600 meters Cal rowed hard through the line while Washington came from nearly a length down to snatch silver from the Badgers. Brown finished fourth, and Cornell and Princeton rounded out the field.

Cal's freshman eight saved its best for last as it produce its best 2000 meters of the season. Princeton led off the line and established a three-seat advantage over the Huskies and six-seats over Cal at the 500-meter mark, but the Huskies had pulled even at 800 and Cal was open-water down. Washington moved into the lead for good at the 1000 as Cal began to make up the deficit to Princeton. Over the last 800 meters of the race, the Bears moved to within a seat of Princeton, but ran out of racecourse and settled for bronze.

The Cal varsity coxed four also emerged from the IRA with a National Championship. The Bears led form start to finish laying down a blistering first thousand to lead by open water at the midpoint of the race. Completely spent heading into the final 400 meters, the Bears held off Wisconsin and Cornell to claim gold, Georgia Tech, Minnesota and Princeton rounded out the top six.

It was a special day for senior and team captain Luke Walton. Walton with the help of his teammates, completed a perfect collegiate racing career--a feat never before accomplished by a four-year oarsman at Cal and believed to be an accomplishment he shares with only a handful of men (none of whom could be identified) in the history of the sport. Walton's crews have recorded victories over 200 crews in 35 starts at 23 regattas. He has a frosh and three varsity IRA gold medals. Teammate and fellow senior Eric Tiret came up one regatta short of an undefeated career after the JV dropped the San Diego Crew Classic earlier this season. Tiret, rowing in the JV eight, notched his fourth IRA gold including a frosh, two JV and one varsity title.

'We work real hard at Cal and I've been fortunate to be a part of this program,' said Walton. 'The thing is that it is not about individuals here. We are a team. While my record is the culmination of a personal goal, it was the team that set the record. I just want people to realize that.'

'I'm feel very satisfied,' said Tiret. 'The season got off to a bit of a rocky start, but we ironed out the kinks and made it happen. It's been a privilege to row at Cal over the last four seasons.'

ResultsIRA National Championships2000 meters on the Cooper River in Cherry Hill, NJ

Varsity Eight-Grand Final1 California 5:34.622 Princeton 5:37.763 Washington 5:39.464 Cornell 5:43.935 Brown 5:45.206 N'eastern 5:50.22

JV-Grand Final1 California 5:40.092 Washington 5:42.183 Wisconsin 5:44.334 Brown 5:45.985 Cornell 5:50.656 Princeton 5:54.18

Freshman Eight-Grand Final1 Washington 5:46.152 Princeton 5:48.513 California 5:48.984 Brown 5:56.465 Wisconsin 5:59.496 N'eastern 6:06:15

Varsity Four-Grand Final1 California 6:33.342 Wisconsin 6:34.773 Cornell 6:34.814 Ga Tech 6:39.965 Minnesota 6:42.86 Princeton 6:45.07

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