Don’t count out the No. 4 Huskies, who have a chance at an unprecedented sixth consecutive title this weekend at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association championship in New Jersey.
Last year it was the drive for five, and the Washington men’s rowing team delivered by winning a fifth straight Intercollegiate Rowing Association championship, an unprecedented feat in men’s college rowing.
Are this year’s Huskies in the mix for six?
Anything is possible, says men’s coach Michael Callahan. Though he concedes that with just two seniors in his varsity eight boat and two returnees from last year’s crew, UW faces a tough task when the three-day IRA championships begin Friday on Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J.
What are the odds the fourth-ranked Huskies could win what would be UW’s eighth title in 10 years?
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“Probably pretty steep,” Callahan said via phone from Middletown, Del., where UW was training on Noxotown Pond at St. Andrews School. “I think it will be tough.”
Top-ranked Yale features a senior-heavy lineup, and No. 2 California, another experienced crew, has defeated UW twice this season. Third-ranked Princeton “is close behind,” said Callahan, who is in his ninth year as UW men’s coach.
“It’s a different challenge this year,” he said. “In the past we had the pressure of trying to repeat. Now it’s more about us just trying to maximize ourselves and perform our best on race day.
“All year we’ve called this team raw,” Callahan said. “Rawness is talent before being polished. At Washington, we reward hard work over talent, and this group has both. Anything can happen when you have very dedicated people who have ability and who are working very hard. But is experience on our side? Probably not. …
“That’s why it’s a challenge for us this year.”
Yet Craig Amerkhanian, coach of 14th-ranked Stanford, thinks no one should count out Washington.
“Under coach Callahan, from what we’ve seen the last five years, they didn’t always have the best team at the IRAs, but they won,” Amerkhanian said after falling to UW at this year’s Windermere Cup. “When you have that type of coaching, that type of culture, of course they’re capable of (title) No. 6 because they have the right ingredients on championship Sunday.”
Callahan, 42, chuckled modestly when told about at the compliment.
“A lot of coaches can do that,” he said. “It comes down to the students. I’ve had a lot of really outstanding people in our program, and we’ve put them in places where they could succeed.”
UW’s V8 boat includes three locals: junior Jake Zier of Orcas Island (bow), and sophomores Rielly Milne of Woodinville (coxswain) and Arne Landboe (six seat) of Shoreline.
“Our goal is to put all the pieces of the season together now and have our strongest performance of the year,” Callahan said. “We want to do it on the last day, on the biggest stage, facing the most pressure.
“We have nothing to lose,” he said. “We’re a hard-working group, and that’s pretty dangerous. That’s what we want to be.”
The full varsity eight lineup: Milne (cox), Philipp Nonnast (stroke), Ezra Carlson (seven), Landboe (six), Jacob Dawson (five), Finn Schroeder (four), Viktor Pivac (three), Sebastian Devereux (two) and Zier (bow).
|How UW men’s crew has finished at the IRAs the last nine years:|
|Year||Varsity 8||2nd V8|
|* Won all five heavyweight championship races|