The UW men will have to settle for five consecutive titles as their bid for a sixth fell short at the college rowing national championships. California won the Jim Ten Eyck trophy as the overall points winner, ending the Huskies’ streak of nine straight trophies.
WEST WINDSOR, N.J. — The guttural yells echoing off New Jersey’s Lake Mercer conveyed the gravity of college rowing’s biggest day Sunday: the Intercollegiate Rowing Championship.
With crowds pasted to the lake shoreline for a 7 a.m. start for the men’s varsity eight Grand Final, emotion was everywhere: in the throngs singing school fight songs underneath white tents, in the alums barking at the races on the viewing monitors, and most enduringly, in the boats.
The Washington men’s varsity eight finished fourth Sunday morning, ending its unprecedented run of five straight national championships.
Fast-starting California used an early lead to top the fourth-seeded Huskies and hold off top-seeded Yale and Princeton for the national title.
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California raced the 2,000-meter course in 5:38.7, Yale finished second in 5:40.7, Princeton third in 5:41.9 and Washington fourth in 5:44.5.
“I think the goal is to have our best race in the final day and the final race,” said Washington coach Michael Callahan. “(That’s) what you hope for your rowers. Not to have that today, you feel like you left something on the water.
“I think we’ve had a lot of success in recent years. Now is the time — I hate it use the word rebuild — but it’s a new chapter in our program. Now’s the time to reinvent it.”
The Huskies have won seven of the last 10 championships. It was Cal’s first championship since 2010.
“It’s definitely a tough day,” said junior oarsman Ezra Carlson of the varsity eight. “But I think because we have such a young group we have room to rebuild.”
Sophomore Arne Landboe of Shoreline agreed.
“It’s a gray day, “ Landboe said. “But (the program has) great upside.”
The UW freshman eight and varsity four each won their races. The freshmen beat Cal and Navy to earn their blue ribbon, and the varsity four topped Princeton and Yale.
California won the Jim Ten Eyck trophy as the overall points winner, ending the Huskies’ streak of nine straight Ten Eyck trophies. Washington finished fourth in overall points.
“We’ve had an amazing run,” Callahan said. “But I think things are evolving in college rowing. … Other schools have answered the call; the elevation of the game; the elevation of rowing is higher. California is an outstanding boat. Other boats, Princeton is an outstanding boat, as is Yale. If you’re not operating at a higher level, you’re going to get left behind.”
According to Callahan, the day’s results were an indicator of the health of the sport, and the need to keep pace.
“It’s time for us to raise it to the next level,” Callahan said. “That’s our challenge. … (intercollegiate rowing) is always evolving and it’s always getting better and I think it’s great for our sport. The women’s league is incredible right now, lots of parity. The men’s league is now getting tighter. … the level of rowing is just very, very high.”
Cal coach Mike Teti, who coached the gold-medal winning USA men’s eight at the 2004 Olympics, agreed.
“Even the points championship (at the IRA) was very close,” Teti said. “I’ve been around a long time. The level (of rowing) is really high. That’s a testament to all the coaches.”
Junior Philip Walczak, a member of the championship varsity four, said the UW tradition meant “never, ever settling for anything.”
As the Huskies left the lake Sunday, it was with a bit of a swagger, and a hint of defiance.
“This program stands for excellence over a long period of time,” Callahan said. “That’s our goal, that’s our standard. We’re going to answer it.”