June 3, 2006
CHERRY HILL, N.J. - In a historic day of racing at the IRA championships on the Cooper River, California captured the Varsity Challenge Cup with a nearly two-second victory over Princeton Saturday to give head coach Steve Gladstone his 11th career national title, tying him with Charles "Pop" Courtney for most varsity eight championships in the history of collegiate racing.
The victory was Gladstone's sixth at Cal and first since winning four in a row from 1999-2002. He also led the Bears to the victory stand in 1976. In addition, Gladstone won five championships at Brown between 1981-94. Courtney won all 11 of his titles as head coach at Cornell from 1901-15.
"It was a perfect execution of our race plan," Gladstone said. "I could not be more proud of them. They showed great patience and poise through the race. We hit our stride as we discussed and were able to spring forward the last 500 meters of the race. It was very satisfying."
Overall, Cal has now claimed the 15 gold medals in the varsity eight. The Bears were third each of the last three seasons before claiming the crown this year.
Saturday's varsity eight grand final included boats from just two conferences - the Pac-10 and the Ivy League. Cal covered the length of the 2000-meter course in 5:37.71, followed by Princeton (5:39.66) and Brown (5:40.92). Harvard (5:41.96), Washington (5:42.44) and Yale (5:42.84) rounded out the field.
Cal jumped out to an early lead with a strong start before Princeton made its move 800 meters into the race to move ahead by four seats. Coxswain Tim O'Connell then called for the Bears to row at their maximum for 30 strokes. The strategy paid off, as Cal reclaimed the lead by four seats and maintained an advantage the rest of the way.
"We were very aware of it," sophomore Jan Tize, who rowed in the No. 3 seat, said of Gladstone's pursuit of an 11th varsity eight title. "It is an amazing accomplishment. It was in the back of our minds since day one. We are very happy for him."
In addition to the varsity eight event, the Bears were second in the second varsity eight petite final, second in the freshman eight grand final, fourth in the pairs grand final, third in the freshman four with cox, and second in the varsity four with cox.
Those results, coupled with the varsity eight crown, propelled Cal to the overall team title for the first time.
2006 Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championship Results
Varsity 8 Grand Final
Second Varsity 8 Petite Final
Freshman 8 Grand Final
Varsity Pairs Grand Final
Freshman 4 with Cox Grand Final
Varsity 4 with Cox Grand Final
Open 4 with Cox Grand Final