Husky Crew to kick off 100th season Saturday

The long and storied tradition that is Washington Rowing will begin to write the next chapter in its history Saturday, as the Men's and Women's crew teams will host Class Day on the Montlake Cut.

The 2003 season opens Saturday March 29th at 10:00 AM with the annual exhibition between the freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior classes. The formal season will begin April 5th at the San Diego Crew Classic.

2003's Husky rowers have the tall task completing the first hundred seasons of Washington Crew. The first 99 years have produced an unmatched list of accomplishments and accolades that help stake Washington's position as the premier rowing program in the country.

The Huskies have produced 70 IRA National Championship boats, three NCAA Women's Championships, 28 Olympic Medalists, 52 Olympians, and 26 National Rowing Foundation Hall of Fame inductees.

Among those 26 inductees are both current head coaches. Women's coach Jan Harville was inducted in 1990 whereas men's coach Bob Ernst a 1994 inductee. Both coaches have nothing but the highest expectations for this year's teams.

The Women's team is the defending NCAA champion and 2003's team once again intends to compete for the title. Men's rowing is not a NCAA sport so the men compete at Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships, where they finished 3rd in 2002.

To go over the list of accomplishments of the current individuals in the program would require a few more pages. To be a part of the varsity crew at Washington simply means that you are a world class rower. Washington continually tests themselves against the highest of international competition at will continue to do so this year at the storied Windemere Cup to be held May 3rd at 10:20 a.m.

The 2003 Windemere Cup will once again host a spectacular field. The men's field includes the Polish National team. Coach Ernst expects the athletes from Poland to be first class. "It's almost all guys that rowed in the 23-under world championships. So they're sending a really good team," Ernst said.

Completing the field in the men's eight is Northeastern University. "They've been a real up and coming crew the last few years. I think they were undefeated going into IRA's last year. So were excited to have them."

The women's field will also have an international element to it. The national team of Belarus will make the trip to Seattle to row against the Husky women. " Belarus has been an international powerhouse in women's rowing for a few years now. They don't field a women's eight unless they're good," said coach Harville.

Notre Dame is the third member of the party and is a relative newcomer to the world of big-time crew, but Harville expects real competition from the Irish. " Notre Dame is an example of a new women's program that is going at it 100 percent. They jumped in full-fledged with a real commitment to their program. They are certainly a high-quality university fielding a high-quality rowing team."

The Windemere Challenge Cup race will be a treat for hardcore rowing fans. The men's national teams from both Canada and the U.S. will face off in a bout of international heavyweights. Canada is the defending world champions, while the U.S. is the bronze medal holder.

In conjunction with the Windemere Cup festivities Washington will host its centennial celebration Thursday May 1st at the Dempsey Indoor. The 100-year anniversary banquet will feature appearances by numerous UW rowing legends. All crews competing in the Windemere will be in attendance as well as a large number of Husky crew alums.

"Initially we were going to have it in the basketball arena, but we found out there were going to be between 1,000 and 1,500 people here. So we moved it to a bigger facility. There's no hidden agenda in this banquet. It's about how many former rowers and coxswains we can get here, along with their families and the goal is to just have a good time," said Ernst.

"To have all these teams here to help us celebrate our centennial and share it is really exciting for us. For them to be able to drawn the history of Washington rowing is going to be a hallmark in their rowing careers."

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