The Huskies are the No. 1 seed heading into this weekend’s NCAA championships. The Huskies made five changes to the top boat after losing to No. 2 California earlier this season and — like almost everything else under first-year coach Yasmin Farooq — it produced positive results.
Don’t expect to hear any “We’re No. 1” chants from the Washington women’s rowing team.
At least not yet.
The Huskies are ranked No. 1 in the nation and are the No. 1 seed in the NCAA championships that begin Friday in West Windsor, N.J. That is pretty heady stuff for a team that for almost a decade has not been one of the top contenders in the national championship, but the Huskies seem too disinterested to let it go to their heads.
UW’s last national title in women’s rowing was in 2001, and the Huskies have not finished as high as third since 2008. A look at UW’s recent performances
Year Overall Varsity Eight
2016 5th 8th
2015 4th 6th
2014 7th 4th
2013 6th 5th
2012 7th 5th
2011 8th 10th
2010 10th 11th
2009 7th 11th
“Honestly, we aren’t thinking about being No. 1,” said UW coach Yasmin Farooq. “We never even talk about it. We’ve just focused on each race this season, and we’ve been successful at that.”
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It’s a bit of a boring answer — but you can’t argue with the results.
The Huskies have impressive victories over No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 Ohio State and No. 10 Michigan.
And in winning last week’s Pac-12 championships, the UW women swept all five races, including easily beating No. 2 California in the varsity eight, the marquee event, just three weeks after Cal had easily beaten UW in that event in Seattle.
But UW made five changes to the top boat after that defeat, and like just about everything else Farooq has done in her first season at UW, it worked.
The Huskies’ varsity-eight win over Cal helped cement the team’s status as No. 1.
“We like to think that every boat has interchangeable parts,” said Phoebe Marks-Nicholes, the junior coxswain for the varsity eight, who went to Ballard High School. “The changes, we’ve always taken a positive from it. You take the lineup that you have and you make the best race that you can.”
Farooq, who previously was the coach at Stanford, said when she interviewed with UW she spoke to 18 to 20 members of the team.
“They were highly motivated and they said they were open to doing things differently and were willing to work hard, and I believed them,” she said. “We implemented what they needed to do, and it’s evolved over the course of the year. They have hit all the benchmarks, and it’s exciting to see how much they have grown.”
Farooq said the biggest change she implemented was “more volume,” utilizing what she learned while training with the U.S. national team. UW usually rows twice a day.
“Our training program is a lot more serious,” Marks-Nicholes said. “She is a real leader for us, and is getting us to be the best we can be.”
Washington left late last week for some training in New Milford, Conn., to get acclimated to the weather and the water on the East Coast. It’s the same routine Farooq used at Stanford when the Cardinal won the national title in 2009.
The national title will be determined by points in the varsity eight, second eight and four. While the varsity eight event draws the most attention, Farooq likes this format.
“I like that every contribution matters, that it’s above and beyond the varsity eight,” she said. “It makes it a rowing championship across all boats. The bond across all of our boats is the strength of our team. We have a really cohesive team because we’ve moved around so much.”
Farooq said trying to figure out the teams to beat and how things might play out at the NCAA championship would be an exercise in futility. She said any predictions are usually moot after the first heat races. So she is focused on her team, and she could not be more proud.
“They just get it,” she said. “They know when to be intense and they know when to be laid back. They are just so much fun to coach. They have stepped up and stuck together. I am excited to show how fast we can make each boat go and how fast we can go collectively.”
|UW’s last national title in women’s rowing was in 2001, and the Huskies have not finished as high as third since 2008. A look at UW’s recent performances:|