For the third year in a row, the UW men’s and women’s rowing teams won Pac-12 championships Sunday in Lake Natoma, Calif.
The men won all five races and the women came back from a third-place finish in the varsity eight race to earn the team title, thanks to their winning performances in the second and third varsity eight and the varsity four races.
In two weeks, both teams will row for national titles. The women will compete at NCAAs May 31-June 2 in Indianapolis while the men return to Lake Natoma for the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national championship regatta.
The UW women finished third in a tightly contested varsity-eight race, with Cal and Stanford both edging the Husky boat. That meant that the UW not only likely needed to win the remaining three scored races (the 2V8+, the V4+ and the 3V8+), but that Cal had to finish outside of second place in at least two of them.
With three of four scored races completed, the women went into the 3V8+ raced tied on total points with both the Cardinal and the Golden Bears, meaning whichever of those three teams won that race would be the Pac-12 champ. The UW 3V8+, unaware of the scoring situation, won the race handily, beating second-place Stanford by nearly 11 seconds.
“The varsity race was just crazy,” women’s coach Yasmin Farooq said. “The announcer kept calling Stanford and Cal, so I really didn’t know where we were. I knew at one point we were down four or five seats in the third 500. When I saw them come into view in the sprint, charging like they were, and for that race to come down to a second, it was great. Here are the top-three teams in the country, at the Pac-12s, inside a second of each other.”
Washington won the team title with 39.5 points, with Stanford second at 39 and California at 38.5.
Washington’s men, ranked No. 2 in the nation going into the championship, swept all five races. After a win in the varsity four in the first race of the morning, the Huskies’ varsity eight set the tone with a close victory over California, beating the Bears by just over one second.
The UW men swept all five races for the first time since 2015, finishing with a maximum 72 points. Cal finished second with 63 points.
“I can’t wait to get back to better weather in Seattle!” UW men’s coach Michael Callahan said. “The varsity eight was a good race. California controlled things back in Seattle at the start, so we worked on that. We were able to control the race at the beginning today. Cal had a very strong second 1,000 and I thought our guys handled it really well.
“From top to bottom, the team performed really well. It was very businesslike.”