June 1, 1997 in Sports

Husky Rowers Bring Home National Title

William N. Wallace New York Times

Washington’s well-deserved victory at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association’s regatta on Saturday was a long time in coming. A Husky varsity eight from Seattle last won this event in 1970, and there had been many absences and disappointments since.

Bob Ernst, the Huskies’ 51-year-old coach, often a carping critic of the Eastern rowing establishment, was a smug victor on Saturday. His wonderful eight-oared crew accelerated through the last 500 meters of the 2,000-meter course on the Cooper River to row away from Brown, the Huskies’ only serious challenger.

The victory brought the Huskies the national championship in the oldest intercollegiate sport and also concluded an undefeated season.

The winning time was a commendable 5 minutes 51 seconds against a slight headwind. Brown was second, one boat length back, in 5:54.3, followed by Cal-Berkeley, Wisconsin, Princeton, and Dartmouth.

Princeton, the Eastern Sprint champion, came here unbeaten and was expected to give Washington its stiffest challenge. But the Tigers were a disappointing third to the Huskies and Wisconsin in an opening heat on Thursday and second to California in the semifinals Friday.

A Washington men’s varsity heavyweight eight last won a national title at Cincinnati in 1984. The Huskies have long been dominant in the West, winning eight straight Pac10 crowns.

The lightweight national championship went to Harvard. The Crimson crew nipped Yale by 0.08 seconds in a stirring finish, with Princeton third.

Crossed oars

In the first event of the day, the IRA’s shirt tradition, one of the oldest rituals in intercollegiate sports, continued when the winning Northeastern pair, Boen Covey and Jan Weissenberger, stood by their shell and accepted the damp shirts handed over by the oarsmen of the five crews they had just beaten.

The NCAA is seeking to end the venerable custom, deeming it an act of gambling or betting in violation of NCAA bylaw 10.3.


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