Washington Men, Cal Women Capture Rowing Titles

May 18, 2008

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- It took the fastest time of the regatta, but in less than six minutes the Washington men's rowing team did something Sunday it hadn't done since 1997.

With its victory in the varsity eight, the Huskies completed their men's sweep of grand finals at the Pac-10 Rowing Championships.

Combined with its with victory in the women's varsity four, Washington claimed five of eight grand finals on the concluding session of the two-day event at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center at Lake Natoma.

With Washington, California and UCLA were the only victorious teams on the regatta's concluding day. The Golden Bears won the remaining three grand finals and the Bruins won all four of the petite finals.Washington claimed the men's title with 72 points, followed by California (62) and Stanford (42), which won as tie-breaker with Oregon State for third based on a higher varsity grand final finish.

California captured the women's team title with 79 points, followed by Stanford (61) and Washington State (59).

Temperatures were a few degrees cooler than the 105 degrees reported Saturday for the Pacific Coast Rowing Championships. But warm weather prevailed, particularly for the concluding prestige events.

The men's varsity eight, the next-to-last grand final, was the closest and fastest race of the competition.

California, which had won seven of the past 10 Pac-10 titles, took an early lead. And Washington, who eventually won its seventh straight race, wasn't at its best.

The Huskies, who claimed their fourth Pac-10 title since 1998, began to steadily make their move in the second half of the 2,000-meter trek. But Washington didn't assume the lead until the final 150 meters and finished in 5 minutes and 51.2 seconds. California was second in 5:53.4, with Stanford third in 5:57.7. Washington's win in the men's freshman novice eight (5:58.6) was the competition's only other sub six-minute time.

'We were tense and a little bit wound up,' said men's coxswain Katelin Snyder. 'I think it's important to be fast event when you're not rowing your best. So I think it's important to win even when you're not rowing at your best.'

Washington men's coach Michael Callahan knew a final win would give the Huskies a sweep. But Washington's coaching staff also knew the team wasn't at its best.

'California really put it together,' said Callahan. 'We were tight all week and you could just tell there was a little tightness in the boat. We knew we probably weren't the strongest boat, so we had to figure out how to get it done. Before we went out I said, `You're going to have to use the whole thing (2000 meters) and it's going to be close.'

The Washington women, who last won the Pac-10 title in 2002 at the end of a five-year reign, had a strong start and were solidly in third halfway through their final. But the Huskies faded and finished fifth, about 13 seconds behind favored Cal in 6:49.6.

The Golden Bears, who captured their fourth title in the fast five years, won in 6:38.8, with Stanford second in 6:42.7.

'It's always hard; we expected to go hard and that's what we did,' said Cal sophomore Kirsten Campbell. 'I expect will can now challenge for the NCAAs. We're going to work hard these next two weeks.'

The teams selections for the NCAA women's division I, II and III championships, scheduled May 30-June 1, also at Lake Natoma, will be announced Tuesday.