Crew-IRA

The UW men's crew team will attempt to win its fifth straight title at the IRA National Championships this weekend. 

This weekend the UW men’s crew team will seek to do something no other team in college rowing has ever accomplished.

Winners of their last four national championships, the Huskies will attempt to be the first school to win five in a row when they travel to Mercer Lake, N.J., for the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) National Championships beginning Friday.

“Just to have a chance to be in this position is a great honor,” men’s head coach Michael Callahan said. “Now, we just need to put together all the right steps, go out there, and row our hardest. Hopefully that will allow us to reach our goal.”

The UW men, winners of 17 IRA Championships overall, have also won the Ten Eyck trophy the last eight years for highest team points at the IRAs, the last three Stewards Cups as the freshman eight champions, and the last five Eric W. Will trophies as winners of the varsity four.

After sweeping each of their five races at the Pac-12 Championships, the then-No. 2 Huskies leap-frogged California to regain the top spot in the final poll of the year going into the National Championships.

“We have a lot of momentum now,” Callahan said. “I think we’re in a good spot. It’s nice when we have so many seniors in the right place in the right time. Hopefully they can bring out their best race at the last day.”

The Huskies will face some familiar foes at the national championships, including Pac-12 members No. 2 California, No. 14 Stanford, and No. 16 Oregon State. Aside from conference foes, tough teams from the East Coast including No. 3 Yale, No. 4 Northeastern, No. 5 Princeton, and No. 6 Brown will be in attendance.

“We’ve had our hiccups this year,” Callahan said. “But it’s fun to get some momentum going and feel good about going into the last race of the season. Our seniors are a tightly knit, strong group and I just hope that they win on their last day.”

On the women’s side, the Huskies will travel to Lake Natoma in Gold River, Calif., to compete in the NCAA Championships, also beginning Friday.

After coming up short of a conference title by just a point and a half at the Pac-12 championships, the No. 5 Huskies are motivated going into the competition. The Huskies were able to win every race except for the varsity eight, the most heavily weighted of all the races, in which they came in third place.

“It’s going to be the best weekend of racing for women between the ages of 18 and 25,” women’s team head coach Bob Ernst said. “It’s going to be really good and extremely intense.”

After a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships last year — their highest since 2003 — the Huskies are poised for another top finish. They will attempt to win their first team national title since 2001 and first individual boat title since 2008, when the varsity four took home first place.

Considering the vast amount of young rowers on this team, with only three total seniors, the Huskies believe they have a bright future in front of them, and will gain a lot of experience this weekend.

“The kids are really determined to make their best showing at the NCAAs,” Ernst said. “The varsity’s performance at the Pac-12 was a little disappointing and so they’d like to improve on that for the NCAAs. It is the national championship, after all.”

Reach reporter Jack Russillo at sports@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @jackrussillo

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