The Huskies were edged by Yale in the varsity eight grand final, but they won national titles in three other races and were the overall points champion.
RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. — A split second and about two feet abruptly ended Washington’s two-week quest to sweep the men’s and women’s collegiate rowing championships Sunday.
The Huskies won their first three grand finals on the concluding day of the three-day IRA National Rowing Championships, but Yale held off a late Washington surge to claim the men’s varsity eight title in 5 minutes, 29.900 seconds on Lake Natoma.
The top-rated Huskies, rowing in lane two, finished in 5:29.969. It took an extended wait before officials reviewed film and determined the slim finishing distance. Harvard edged Princeton by .023 seconds to place third in 5:33.455.
Washington’s women swept the NCAA championships last weekend in New Jersey, a first in the history of the women’s regatta.
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With its victories and runner-up finish, Washington won the men’s team title on a calm, cool day at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center. Temperatures peaked in the lows 80s. And with only periodic slight winds, the concluding session prompted low times.
“Yale has a very fast first half of the race, for sure,” Washington coach Michael Callahan said. “The idea was to stay with them to neutralize their early power and then use to whole 2k (two kilometer) course to get ahead.
“Yale had an outstanding race, and it looked we were in a position to do what we wanted to do, but in the end they had a better day. Yale has just developed a lot of experience. They have won a lot of close races this year and that’s give then a lot of confidence.”
Washington, Yale, California and Harvard advanced closely together in the early stages of the finale. The Bulldogs, rowing in lane three, moved to a three-seat advantage after 500 meters. Yale passed the halfway point in 2:43, with Washington moving into second place with a surge at 40 strokes per minute. The Huskies remained three seats behind Yale until the boat’s final surge in the last 250 meters.
“Yale raced well in the first half and then the other boats were coming back,” UW senior Pietro Zileri Dal Verme said. “If we would have had one more meter we would have won.”
Sophomore Max Rennie added: “Our strategy was the same, just to go and attack it. But I think we have maybe started a little too late.”
Washington began the midmorning grand finals with a start-to-finish win in the men’s varsity four. The Huskies, who cruised into the finals with two earlier regatta wins, quickly took a one-third deck lead over top rival California.
Rowing in lane one Washington steadily expanded its advantage over the Golden Bears and crossed the halfway mark in a quick 3:07 while rowing at 39 strokes per minute. California never made a serious challenge in the second half of the race with the Huskies winning by nearly five seconds in 6:23.81. California was second in 6:28.35.
Ninety minutes later, after a series of petite finals and a midmorning break, Washington claimed its second event, winning the third varsity eight by more than two seconds over Harvard in 5:47.28.
The Huskies used two quick power 10 strokes just before midway to move into the lead while rowing closest to the shore. Washington maintained its advantage through 1,000 meters with other power move and none of the remaining five boats were able to pose a serious threat. Harvard finished second in 5:49.357, followed by California in 5:50.915.
Washington’s third win of the day in the men’s second varsity eight was a near repeat of the third varsity eight. The Huskies took a slight early lead over defending titlist Harvard. Like their teammate’s earlier strategy, Washington’s power move at 40 strokes per minute after around 750 meters moved the boat into a three-quarter boat length cushion.
The Huskies, who won their 28th title in the event called the Kennedy Cup, finished with more than a two-second margin in 5:38.65. California was second in 5:40.720 and Princeton was third in 5:40.777.