Washington rowers extend national title streaks

Published: Monday, Jun. 3, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3C

The University of Washington and the Sacramento area came away as big winners over the weekend in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships at Lake Natoma.

The Huskies' varsity eight defeated Harvard for a third consecutive national title, and Washington won an unprecedented seventh straight Ten Eyck Award, given to the team with the most overall points.

Sacramento won with great weather, a large crowd and a well-run operation.

"Expectations were exceeded," regatta director Tom Sullivan said. "The people that run this event with the local organizers are unbelievable. (They were) exceptional with how hospitable they were, and it's just beautiful."

This was just the second time in the 111-year history of the IRA that the championships have been held west of Ohio. The first time was four years ago at Lake Natoma.

IRA Commissioner Gary Caldwell and Sullivan praised the local event staff, retailers and community.

"I think this is the best run IRA we've ever conducted," Caldwell said. "A huge reason is the local community and the volunteers. They make it easy to run a regatta."

The IRA will hold the championships at Lake Mercer in New Jersey in 2014 and 2015, with the event returning to Lake Natoma in 2017.

A decision will be made this summer concerning a possible return to Lake Natoma in three years.

An estimated crowd of more than 2,000 watched Sunday's finals from the banks near Nimbus Flat.

The Huskies won all five heavyweight grand finals and did not lose a heat in the opening trials Friday or the semifinals Saturday.

"I think the sky is the limit with this coaching staff," Washington senior Alex Bunkers said. "(Head coach) Mike Callahan has done an unbelievable job. I truly believe he is the best coach out there and really maximizes everyone and squeezes every ounce of speed out of everyone."

The Stanford women won the varsity lightweight eight for the third time in four years, and the Harvard men won the men's lightweight eight.

Local flavor – The first two titles of the finals on Sunday morning came with Sacramento-area residents at coxswain.

The Washington men's open four, with Jesuit graduate Parker Ksidakis, defeated Northeastern for their third consecutive title.

Twenty minutes later, the Washington varsity four, with Christian Brothers graduate Ben Dagang, defeated Cal by .3 seconds.

"That was by far the closest race and closest finish I've ever been in," said Dagang, who rowed out of River City Rowing Club in West Sacramento in high school. "My heart was probably going 200 beats a minute in those few strokes."

Folsom High graduate Sam Dommer is the three seat for Washington's varsity eight.

Dommer and Ksidakis competed for Capital Crew, based at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center at Lake Natoma, in high school.

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