Cal crew stuns Huskies, seizes IRA crown
Washington fell three-tenths of a second short of becoming the first team in program history since 1941 to repeat as national champions as Pac-10 rival California scored a mild upset in a blistering time of 5:24.8 at the Intercollegiate Racing Association Championships.
Special for The Seattle Times
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CHERRY HILL, N.J. — Max Lang stood in the hot sun Saturday as the rest of the Washington crew broke down the team's temporary headquarters on the eastern end of the Cooper River and took a moment to reflect on just how close the program had come to history.
"Sometimes you run out of room," the senior bow said. "We executed but we just didn't have enough room.
"I've already thought about it. It's not always the final destination but the journey getting there that's important. I value that more than anything. I know some of the younger guys are disappointed, but it's situations like this that all the good comes from. It's disappointing, but it's a part of life and I value that."
Washington fell three-tenths of a second short of becoming the first UW team since 1941 to repeat as national champions as Pac-10 rival California scored a mild upset in a blistering time of 5:24.8 at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships. Cal exploited the hot conditions and a favorable tailwind to overcome a slight Washington lead with an explosive final 50 yards to win the national title.
"I think we are a much better tailwind crew than a headwind crew," California coach Mike Teti said. "This was definitely better conditions for us. We had our fastest times with a tailwind — relative, of course.
"We really worked hard on our sprint and we believed that if we could be within a second with 15 strokes to go we could get them. We have some good kids in the stern and they executed it perfectly. Yeah, hot water, tailwind, 5:23."
Washington, which entered the day undefeated, did have plenty to be proud of after it was announced for the fourth consecutive season that the Huskies were the Ten Eyck winners as the top team at the regatta. Earlier in the day the second varsity eight came from behind to beat a strong Brown squad as both teams broke the previous course record with times of 5:32.083 and 5:32.425, respectively.
"With 350 to go we were still three seats down," senior Simon Taylor said. "With 100 meters to go and with about 80 to go, I looked over and saw we were even and with the momentum I knew we had a great chance to beat a very talented Brown squad.
"You want to go out with a bang and this win was big for me. (Coach) Michael Callahan has a saying, 'It's not how you start but how you finish.' For me, I was keeping that in mind. I wanted to put a stamp on my career as a rower. At the start, I said to myself, '2,000 meters and eight years of rowing to go.' "
That said the varsity eight has already gained a motivational edge for next season as this loss hung over them in the thick humid air Saturday. The Huskies trailed early but had taken the lead, only to see rival Cal overcome them at the finish line.
"Cal had a heck of a surge there at the end, and I think they were just better today," Callahan said. "I talked to some of the guys and one of them told me, 'Hey, we gave it everything we had.' We're proud of that effort.
"We have a lot of eligibility left. It's only going to make us hungrier for next year. There's no question about that."