Perhaps the only misstep for Washington at the 2013 IRA came from their head coach Mike Callahan, who showed up for the Varsity Eight medal ceremony with a bloody bruise on his forehead from an encounter with his boat trailer. That was by far the worst of the damage for UW, who swept the five open men's events at the IRA for the 2nd consecutive year.
"A lot of people outside the program talk about it [UW's dominance], but we don't really embrace it that way," said Callahan. "We take care of the hard work and the process. It's kinda cliche, but there are hard days too."
Washington graduates 14 seniors this season, but it's likely no one is expecting a fade from the Huskies any time soon.
MEN'S VARSITY EIGHT
Washington's elation at the win in the Varsity eight, a length ahead of Harvard, who in turn held off a fast-finishing Brown crew, was mixed with relief. "I think we knew we had some good boat speed, but you obviously want to see the guys have their best performance on the last day," said Washington's Callahan. "California is improved, and Harvard had an amazing season on the east coast, and so did Brown. It's two-pronged, you have to cover the crews that can start fast, and you have be able to finish with the crews that can finish. we had to have a complete piece."
"Washington is at the front, but we're going to go for it," is how Harvard's Harry Parker described the Crimson plan of attack for the final. Harvard worked hard to match the Huskies, but could not quite run with the pace UW was serving up. (at one point, the announcers described Harvard as a "finesse crew," which is accurate but probably does a disservice to the power the crew was able to put out this season).
Brown finished a strong regatta with a bronze in the 1V, matching Washington as the only squad to medal in all three eights events. Brown finished 2nd overall in the Ten Eyck point trophy standings."
"We were really pleased with the way the racing had gone at Sprints, so we tried to expand on what the guys had done," said Brown head coach Paul Cooke. "All we need to do as coaches is prepare them. Everyone was a little disappointed with way we finished the race off yesterday, and I think they put the whole race together better today."
MEN'S LIGHTWEIGHT EIGHT
Harvard finished off a perfect season in the Men's lightweight eight with a solid, if narrow victory ahead of Yale and Columbia, who upgraded their 4th place from Eastern Sprints by one spot.
"This group was able to maintain the attention to detail," said Harvard's Charlie Butt after the race. "It helped a lot when Yale beat us by 2/100 two years ago. That helps to keep their focus. Surprisingly they ran hot today, and had a big margin, and I was wondering the whole way, well, what are we going to give bacK? Because, in this field, if you get out to a length, you're going to pay. The posse comes for you!"
Lucky that the posse, led by Yale, did not quite find the speed to close today. With wins in both lightweight men's events today, Harvard was actually more dominant than at the Eastern Sprints, where Yale had won the Jope Cup for overall performance.
WOMEN'S LIGHTWEIGHT EIGHT
Stanford, not the top seed entering the regatta based on a sizeable in-season defeat to Radcliffe, nevertheless rowed a strongly confident final, pushing away from challengers Radcliffe at every marker, and claimed their fourth consecutive national title in this event by a length at the line.
"We don't really talk about winning," said Stanford head coach Al Acosta. "Our seniors really understood how to make progress, how to get faster, and that everything was going to be OK."
Acosta cited his crews' experience at the WIRA regatta, where the crew raced open weight crews, as having played a big role in getting his crew the win today. "We raced Gonzaga into a headwind, we'd been leading and lost by two-tenths of a second, but they held on to their splits at the end and went faster. That solidified their belief in each other."
For Stanford six-seat Alex Cours the win today marked her seventh consecutive national championship. She had four at Stanford, then three back-to-back in high school, whew.
Radcliffe's coach Michiel Bartman was gracious in defeat. "It was a great season. Compared to last year we were able to improve a lot, but obviously we wish we could have won here today. I knew Stanford was not going down without a strong fight. It's a super experience for our younger athletes."
MEN'S 2V EIGHT
Mirroring the Freshman result, the Washington 2V captured the win ahead of Brown and Cal with another dominating result in what had looked to be one of the tighter fields at the regatta.
"I've been waiting the whole year for them to have a performance, because they are one of the classiest boats, and I'm glad they got a chance to show it today," said Washington's Callahan. "They were pumped on how they rowed today. It feels great as a coach when they come off the water and say, we nailed it."
Brown's Cooke was quick to credit his assistant coaches for the lower boat performances today. "Graham Willoughby and Judah Rome have been really terrific and they deserve a lot of credit for the way the team performs as a whole."
MEN'S FRESHMAN EIGHT
Washington continued the festivities in the Freshman eight, with the Huskies pushing to open water early and never looking back for one of the biggest margins at these championships. This season was not as much of a sure thing as the might have indicated; UW freshman coach Luke McGee stepped away from Washington to assume the US National Team coaching position mid-year, and the Huskies regrouped behind Rick Gherst to finish out the year.
"They had a really interesting year, there were definitely 6-8 weeks where things were pretty uncertain." said Gherst. "It could have gone one way, but it went the other, they really took ownership of the experience."
On preparing for the IRA, Gherst says the crew just kept it simple. "There's a lot we don't know about what's going on the east coast, so we just try to keep getting faster every week," said Gherst. "We've got a really good group of eights we train with, we're always chasing the 2V, we really count on those guys to keep us honest."
MEN'S LIGHTWEIGHT FOUR
Not many coaches would be really comfortable with a crew that likes to row from behind, but it worked out for the Harvard lightweight four today, who reeled the field in during the second 1000 to win, ahead of a rare lightweight entry from Wisconsin and Cornell.
"Their second 1000 is so much stronger, that's just how they do it, Charlie has not fought that," said Harvard coach Linda Muri of her crew, which is made up of the stern four of the Sprints silver-medalist Harvard 2V. "They've been super easy to work with, fun to coach, and they get along well, which is not always the case in a four!"
MEN'S VARSITY FOUR
After losing to Cal at the PAC-12 championships in May, you had to believe that the Huskies would have their dander up for this one. The final didn't disappoint, with UW making the race, then weathering a ferocious charge from Cal that came just short at the line today, with UW hanging on by 3/10s of second. A month of practice, a lineup change, and the ferment surrounding championship season at the UW boathouse was probably enough today, and the crew was exuberant once the result was confirmed.
"These guys knew what they needed to do out there," said UW coach Max Weaver. "After our loss at Pac-12s, these guys came back with renewed focus, and it was awesome to see those guys come together. The loss to Cal lit a fire under them."
MEN'S OPEN FOUR
Washington started their big run with a win the Open Four today, just ahead of Northeastern and Cal. With the future of the Open Four event uncertain after this season, the UW lineup showcased just the kind of opportunity the Open event is supposed to represent.
"We're two freshmen, who are basically untested, a sophomore, and a Senior who is just finishing his career," said UW coach Pat Kneeland. "These guys worked really hard over the past month to make this boat, there's a really hard selection process amongst the whole group, and these are the guys that came out."
WOMEN'S LIGHTWEIGHT FOUR
Now that Wisconsin is finally completely iced out, the Badgers are getting some productive water time. After a fairly sub-par Sprints, by their standards, the Wisconsin lightweights bounced back, winning the Women's Lightweight Four ahead of Radcliffe and Fordham.
"We had two weeks on the water before Sprints, so we were kind of in a deficit that we needed to get out of," said Wisconsin coach Heidi Hunsberger. "They were fast on the water in Wisconsin, and when you're getting fast times there, where the water is pretty cold, that's a good thing."
The Masters Eights, as is the tradition, opened the finals days. Three crews had assembled alums, with the Cornell alums finishing ahead of Syracuse and Cal. Some good strokes in those boats, whose average ages run 60+.
Finally (and we should have known this), the place to be at IRA if you can is as close to the Wisconsin brat fest as possible.
This concludes our coverage of the 111th IRA from Sacramento; if you have enjoyed our coverage, posted our photos on your Facebook, tweeted or shared our features, please support row2k!