Junior Men, Senior Women Take Home Class Day Titles

March 27, 2010

SEATTLE - All along, the juniors kept their composure.

Even with a chaotic start to the Class Day Regatta - and an even more hectic finish - the juniors were calmly able to navigate their way to a first-place finish in the George M. Varnell men's eight race, which featured more tightly contested intra-squad rowing the program has seen in some time.

In the end, the juniors made a move at the 650-meter mark, walking past the sophomores and fending off a very capable freshmen group at the finish to win in a time of 5:44.8, less than two seconds faster than the Grunties. This was the first time since 2007 that the juniors had won Class Day's, breaking a two-year streak held by the freshmen.

The 109th annual Class Day Regatta provided some clarity into the level of overall talent the defending IRA champions are showcasing each day during training on the Montlake Cut.

'I just see the depth of the program is really strong right now,' said men's crew coach Michael Callahan. 'There's a lot of competition and that's really going to drive the team forward.'

In the Seattle Times women's eight race, the seniors dominated from the start with a ferocity that had defined their practice week leading up to the Regatta. Outside of the mandatory two-a-day workouts, the seniors collectively performed additional water workouts, taking advantage of the free time available during Spring Break.

The extra practice paid off, as the senior class took home the wire-to-wire win in 6:31.5. It was the second straight win for this class, who also won Class Day's as juniors last season.

'They were really on a mission to win this race today,' said women's coach and rowing director Bob Ernst. 'I had seen them go out in the worst weather this week for extra training ... It was really important to them.'

With abundant sunshine over Lake Washington, the crowds were out to support the Husky rowers. They were treated to some great rowing, particularly in the final race. Afterward, hundreds gathered at Conibear Shellhouse for the trophy presentation and the announcement of the team captains. For the 2010 season, Ty Otto and Adrienne Martelli will sport the green star on Washington's traditional white oars.

In the George M. Varnell race, the seniors and the Grunties jumped the start and roared out with a high stroke rate. Eventually, at the 1,000-meter mark, the sophomores had settled into an effective pace to take a small lead. But the juniors continued lurking, able to compartmentalize the surrounding traffic and some clashing oars with the sophomores, a class that famously went undefeated last season. At the end, the juniors amped their stroke rate up to a 39 and powered into the finish line.

'Once we got into the Montlake Cut, it's like your home course when you're there,' Otto said. 'And when you're in the Cut, you can go as hard as you want. It was painful, really painful.'

In the morning's first race, an experienced boat stroked by Skye Pearman-Gilman and coxed by Kelsey Meyer won the Varsity/Novice challenge, pulling through the Montlake Cut with a time of 6:50.0. Race No. 2 featured another strong performance from an experienced, varsity-led crew, which was coxed by a cowboy hat-wearing Sam Ojserkis.

The competition displayed during Class Day will carry over to training this week as Washington prepares for the Stanford Invitational next weekend. The Huskies might have lost key pieces from last year's varsity eight that won the IRA title, but the bottom pressure applied from the sophomore and junior classes has been impressive. Nothing will be certain, though, until the Huskies start testing themselves against their Pac-10 opponents.

'We need to start racing,' Callahan said. 'We need to know where we are relative to our competition.'

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