2015 Pac-12 rowing year in review

SAN FRANCISCO - The Pac-12 excelled on both the men’s and women’s collegiate rowing circuits, leaving little doubt about the Conference’s rowing prominence. CALIFORNIA came in second overall in NCAA Championships and four women’s teams were ranked among the top eight in the final CRCA / USRowing Coaches Poll. Meanwhile, WASHINGTON won their fifth-straight IRA national championship and two Pac-12 men’s crews occupied the top two spots in the final USRowing Collegiate rankings. 

WASHINGTON continued its dominance of men’s collegiate rowing, capturing its fifth-straight national title by sweeping the grand finals at the IRA National Championships.  The sweep marked only the third time in regatta history that the races have been won by one team. The championship was the 18th for the Huskies, whose five titles in a row mark a feat unmatched by any other collegiate rowing team in history. Washington also claimed the Ten Eyck Trophy for an unprecedented eighth-straight season, extending its IRA record. CALIFORNIA medaled in four of the five races during the IRA Grand Finals, including a second-place finish in the varsity eight, the freshman eight, and the varsity four, and a third-place finish in the third varsity eight. Washington and California were the only two teams in the regatta to qualify for participation in all five IRA Grand Finals. STANFORD also medaled in the national championship, earning bronze in the Varsity Four Grand Final. 

Washington successfully defended its Conference title at the Pac-12 Rowing Championships on Lake Natoma, hoisting the team trophy for the sixth year in a row. The Huskies swept every race of the day, and came away with a total of 72 points. California finished second overall at Pac-12 Championships for the second year in a row, with a point total of 63. The Golden Bears placed second behind the Huskies in each of the five races of the day. OREGON STATE placed third in team standings for the second year in a row, earning 50 points and third place in three of the five races on the day. Stanford finished just behind Oregon State with a total of 49 points and a third-place finish in the varsity eight, followed by WASHINGTON STATE in fifth and COLORADO in sixth.

California sophomore Justin Murphy earned Men’s Rowing Athlete of the Year honors, after earning Newcomer of the Year honors in 2014. The Montclair, N.J. native has been an integral part of the No. 2 team in the nation and specifically the varsity eight this past year.  After a solid freshman year, Murphy competed for the USA Under-23 team, stroking the four to a sixth-place finish. Murphy is currently in the six-seat of the Golden Bears’ varsity eight and is positioned to make the step up to the USA Senior team this summer. Jesse Maritz of Oregon State was tabbed the Newcomer of the Year, making an immediate impact on the Beaver crew in his freshman year. Maritz posted one of the top scores on the erg in school history for a freshman, then slotted into the varsity eight and made the boat faster. Kaess Smit of Stanford was named Men’s Rowing Scholar Athlete of the year for his three years on the Cardinal varsity eight and his 3.628 grade-point average in his mechanical engineering major.

Washington’s Michael Callahan earned top coaching honors for the sixth year in the row. Callahan, in his eighth year at Washington, led the team to a sweep at both Pac-12 Championships and IRA Championships, marking the Huskies’ sixth-straight Conference title and fifth-straight national one. Under Callahan, the Huskies have experienced an unprecedented level of success, winning the Ten Eyck Award during each of his eight seasons at the helm.

CALIFORNIA earned a second-place finish at the NCAA Championships at Lake Natoma for the third-consecutive year. This marks the eighth year in a row that the Golden Bears have finished the NCAA Championships in the top three. No. 2 California came in second in the varsity eight with a time of 6:18.6, just behind eventual national champion Ohio State, which finished with a time of 6:18.1. The Bears finished the day with 114 team points, just shy of the Buckeyes who finished with 126. California’s second-place finish means that a Pac-12 team has come in either first or second place in 15 of the last 19 years. Three other Pac-12 crews also finished near the top of the Division I team standings with WASHINGTON coming in fourth, STANFORD in sixth, and WASHINGTON STATE in eighth. Additionally, USC came in 15th overall at the national championship regatta. 

Washington posted victories in three of four races at the Pac-12 Championships on Lake Natoma, but fell short of winning the Conference title. Instead, California won the varsity eight and captured the overall team championship for the seventh time in the last eight years. Washington finished second overall, after a second-place finish in the varsity eight and a first-place finish in the third varsity eight, the second varsity eight, and the varsity four. Washington State finished third at the Conference regatta after a second-place finish in the varsity four and third-place finishes in the second and third varsity eights. Stanford took fourth with a silver medal in the varsity right. USC finished fifth overall, while UCLA came in sixth followed by OREGON STATE in seventh.

California’s Kendall Chase was named the Pac-12 Women’s Rowing Athlete of the Year. Chase has been a part of the Golden Bears’ NCAA runner-up varsity eight all season and has been competing in the team’s top boat since her freshman year. She captured two gold medals in the 2014 Women’s World Rowing Under-23 Championships in Varese, Italy, serving in the seven-seat of the United States women’s eight and in the bow-seat in the United States women’s four. Women’s Newcomer of the Year Mia Croonquist, also from Cal, has rowed at the five-seat of the Golden Bears’ Pac-12 champion varsity eight throughout her first season on the team. She was also elected as one of the Bears’ four team captains by the freshman class. Pac-12 Women’s Rowing Scholar Athlete of the Year honors went to Stanford’s Naomi Cornman, who has been the coxswain of the Cardinal varsity eight for the last two seasons. Cornman holds a 3.688 grade-point average and is double-majoring in French and international relations.

California coach Al Acosta earned Pac-12 Women’s Coach of the Year honors in his first year as head coach of the Golden Bears. He guided California to a Pac-12 Championship and a second-place finish at NCAA Championships. Acosta is a Cal graduate himself and was named National Coach of the Year five times while leading the Stanford women’s lightweight team.

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