These Huskies stand alone. Washington’s varsity eight became the first collegiate team to win five straight Intercollegiate Rowing Association titles Sunday at Mercer Lake.

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WEST WINDSOR, N.J. — These Huskies stand alone.

Washington’s varsity eight became the first collegiate team to win five straight Intercollegiate Rowing Association titles Sunday at Mercer Lake.

The Huskies dominated a sterling field, achieving open water with 750 meters to go in the 2,000 meter race. Washington finished in 5:28.0, followed by California in 5:30.8 and Princeton in 5:30.9.

The Huskies surpassed previous four-time winners California (1999-2002) and Cornell (1955-58 and 1909-1912).

It is the team’s seventh national title in nine years.

The national championship had been heralded as a duel between Washington and Cal, the only team to have defeated the Huskies in head-to-head or championship competition since 2010.

Under serene conditions, the race was over quickly.

After Cal started quickly, the Huskies dug in. They were two seats up at 500 meters and four seats up by the 750-meter mark. The lead was seven seats at 1,000 meters, the race’s halfway point.

“We wanted to take control of the race,” said Washington coach Michael Callahan. “Even if (Cal) came with us (we wanted to be) pressing the pace. I was surprised we took such a commanding lead.”

As the Huskies churned through the last 1,000 meters, hitting open water with 750 meters to go, only the second-place finisher was in doubt.

“I told them, ‘A lot of people don’t know how fast you are,’ ” Callahan said. “ ‘Let’s put together the best piece of work all year.’ ”

The varsity eight did that, resoundingly. The top boat touched off a Husky sweep of the five races, the third time in four years UW has done so. They also did it in 2012 and 2013. The Huskies also won their ninth straight Ten Eyck Trophy, given to the team that scores the most overall points.

If there was a rallying point for this group, it occurred April 25, when Cal beat the varsity eight. It was an event that Callahan said “ignited a fire” under his crew.

“That brought us back to reality,” said senior captain Edward Nainby-Luxmoore. “Made us re-think things. We rallied together as a team, worked together as a team.”

That spirit was exemplified in his crew’s acceptance of the lineup changes Callahan made in his top boat this spring.

“There was a lot of self-sacrifice,” Callahan said. “You can be bitter (after you’re taken out of the lineup) or you can do what is best for the team.”

With throngs of jubilant Huskies and their parents gathered around him on the shore of Mercer Lake, Callahan opened his palm. It held a weathered blue jewelry case.

Inside the case was the Olympic bronze medal won in 1952 by former Husky rower Carl Lovsted, who graduated from Washington in 1952 and died in 2013. Lovsted is the namesake of the varsity eight’s boat.

Lovsted won here as a freshman and a sophomore, Callahan said, as the medal, dulled but still luminous, shone in the sunlight.

“We draw a lot from our history,” said Nainby-Luxmoore, of Durham, England.

Now they’ve made some as well.

Dominant dynasty
Not only have the Huskies won an unprecedented five straight IRA titles, they have done so in dominant fashion. A look at the varsity eight’s winning margins the last five years:
Year Winning margin Second-place team
2015 2.8 seconds California
2014 2.5 seconds Brown
2013 2.5 seconds Harvard
2012 2.0 seconds Brown
2011 2.7 seconds Harvard