The postseason has arrived for the Washington rowing teams, who will visit the Sacramento State Aquatic Center seeking to repeat as Pac-12 champions after sweeping the competition last year.
Both the men’s and women’s crews will race in the first, second, and third varsity eight races, as well as the varsity four and novice eight.
Each crew will be bringing back a similar team to the ones that swept the Pac-12 Championships a year ago. On the women’s side, freshman Sofia Asoumanaki is one new addition to the varsity eight. Meanwhile, last year’s novice eight has moved up to this year’s third varsity eight boat.
“The way our program works, as successful as it is, it brings people up each year,” women’s head coach Yasmin Farooq said. “They’ve really made excellent improvement over the last year.”
The men will have no freshmen in this year’s varsity eight boat, compared to the two it had last year.
“There’s more depth in the key seats, older guys in the key seats,” men’s head coach Michael Callahan said. “Even if it’s only a sophomore, they’ve been through it before, and it’s really valuable having that experience.”
The Huskies are coming off of an impressive showing at last weekend’s Windermere Cup, where they won nine out of 10 races against top international competitors. The highlights included a victory by less than a second over European powerhouse Oxford Brookes for the men’s varsity eight, and a close loss to the Dutch National Team for the women.
“We knew that there were Olympians in that boat, so we were like, ‘Hopefully we can compete,’” Farooq said.
The Huskies raced two boats in that race: one of which led in the early stages of the race, and another that was side-by-side with the Dutch until the end.
“I couldn’t have imagined having a more exciting and better race in the run up to the Pac-12s,” Farooq said. “For those three boats to race side-by-side for the whole thing, you just can’t pay for that kind of experience. That was a huge gift.”
The men had their most narrow victory of the season against Oxford Brookes, but Callahan doesn’t want his team to get bogged down with technicalities.
“Having a close one and pulling it out does build confidence and it shows you that the most important thing is getting your bow across the line first,” Callahan said. “Sometimes how you do it doesn’t really matter, just getting the job done matters.”
The latest USRowing Collegiate and CRCA Coaches’ polls each have the Huskies sitting in the top spot. A strong showing on Sunday will put the UW women in a great position to also repeat as NCAA champs.
Meanwhile, the men will use the Pac-12 as a tuneup for June’s IRA National Championships, where they narrowly missed out on a title last year.
“It’s all here at the right time, I think,” Farooq said. “It’s been a really exciting spring, we’ve had some great racing. We’re certainly excited about going down to Gold River and showing the best that we’ve got.”
Start times for the races have not yet been announced.
Reach contributing writer Jordan Duncan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @JordanDuncan43