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Sunday, June 06, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
By Chuck Gormley
CAMDEN, N.J. It was a very good day for the Washington men's rowing team yesterday. A little more distance, and it could have been a great day.
After watching his varsity four and junior varsity eight boats win gold medals at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships on a rainswept Cooper River, Huskies coach Bob Ernst saw his vaunted varsity eight boat finish second to Harvard for the second straight year.
This time, the Huskies' bid for their first national title since 1997 fell several meters short.
"No question, Harvard's got a great crew," said Ernst, who followed the race by riding his bicycle on a nearby embankment. "Our guys went out to race Harvard, nobody else."
Coaxed by coxwain Greg King, the Huskies got out to a strong start and held a slight lead over California and Harvard 500 meters into the 2,000-meter race. But Harvard pulled to a three-seat lead over California at the midway point and had a half-boat lead at the 1,500-meter mark.
A late push moved the Huskies ahead of California and into second place, but there was not enough water to catch Harvard, which won in 5 minutes, 53.18 seconds. UW finished in 5:58.03. It marked the first meeting between Washington and Harvard since the Huskies placed second to Harvard in last year's IRA Championships, also on the Cooper River.
"We know more about Washington than people realize," said Harvard coach Harry Parker, in his 43rd season. "We know they're capable of having strong finishes. The one thing that worked to their disadvantage was Cal being so aggressive at the start."
For half of the Huskies on the eight-man boat Brett Newlin, Giuseppe Lanzone, Sam Burns and Andy Derrick it was the second straight setback to Harvard in the IRAs. And for three senior rowers Newlin, Burns and Derrick it was a bittersweet end to their collegiate careers.
"We rowed as fast as we could," said a teary-eyed Derrick, 22, of Cincinnati. "We knew if Harvard was going to beat us they'd better be fast, and they were. But we left everything we had on that river. For some guys it was the end of the season. But for guys like me, it's the end of a career."
Although it was another year of disappointment for UW's varsity eight, two other Huskies crews sipped from the silver Kennedy Cup.
The varsity four boat, guided by coxwain Adrian Andrews, won by a boat length over George Washington. The junior varsity eight, coxwained by Chris O'Brien, picked up its 10th straight victory.
Andrews said the strong headwind and heavy rains perfectly suited the UW rowers.
"The weather was just like Seattle," he said. "We practice in this every day."
Washington's JV eight boat held off a challenge by Harvard at the midway point, then used a strong surge over the final 500 meters for an easy win.
The Gonzaga men's varsity four finished ninth in the nation, taking third in the petite final. The Bulldogs freshmen four placed 15th overall.
Green Lake Crew advanced to the men's eight finals of the USRowing National Youth Invitational Regatta on Harsha Lake in Amelia, Ohio. Green Lake lost to Oakland Strokes in its first heat but finished second in the repechage (second-chance race) to reach the finals. The Everett Rowing Association men's eight also advanced.
Other crews advancing included Green Lake Crew's men's lightweight four and women's eight; and the Sammamish Rowing Association's women's eight.
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