The Washington men’s crew began defense of its four consecutive Intercollegiate Rowing Association titles, finishing first in all five of its heats Friday on Lake Mercer in West Windsor, N.J.

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The Washington men’s crew began defense of its four consecutive Intercollegiate Rowing Association titles, finishing first in all five of its heats Friday on Lake Mercer in West Windsor, N.J.

Four of Washington’s five boats moved on to semifinal races on Saturday, while the freshman eight advanced directly to Sunday’s grand final with a victory in its heat.

“I’m definitely happy,” said UW men’s coach Michael Callahan. “We were the No. 1 seed in all those races and we definitely wanted to secure our spot in the semifinals, but also keep that seed so that we’ll have the best options, best lane in the semifinals.

“Semifinals here are really tight,” he continued, “so you want to invest the effort today to make sure you win the heat.”

The Husky varsity eight opened the day in the first heat of the morning, winning with a time of 5:52.250. The UW led virtually the whole way and crossed the line ahead of second-place Boston University, ahead by three-quarters of a boat length.

UW women’s boats advance

UW women’s crew had all three of its boats advance to the semifinals on a productive first day at the NCAA Championships on Lake Natoma, highlighted by a photo-finish victory for the Huskies in the fourth heat of the varsity eight.

“We did exactly what we needed to do today in getting all the boats straight to the semifinals,” UW women’s coach Bob Ernst said. “It was a good day. The varsity and second varsity had outstanding races today and they did exactly what they needed to do.”

Coming in as the No. 5-seeded varsity eight, the Huskies were in the fourth heat of the day against fourth-seeded Brown, the highest-seeded crew in the heat. UW women’s crew got out to a great start, seizing an early lead that extended to nearly a length at one point. Both Brown and Texas charged late and pushed the Huskies to the very end, but UW held them off and won the heat by less than two-hundredths of a second.

Texas took second and Brown ended in third.