Husky Pups and Coaches Lead the U.S. Men’s Team at Under 23 World Championships
July 14, 2012
Making up roughly a quarter of the United States’ men's pack, the Huskies are ready to unleash their competitive spirit as members of the Under 23 World Championship squad during this weekend’s finals in Trakai, Lithuania.
Nine rowers and two coaches from the University of Washington men’s team, as well as one rower from the women’s squad, are representing the U.S. this week at the 2012 World Rowing Under 23 Championships.
Considering what Washington athletes have done already this year, that’s a good thing for the U.S.
Earlier this summer, the UW freshman eight won the Temple Cup at the 2012 Henley Royal Regatta and swept the men’s heavyweight events at the 2012 Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships.
“Everybody fights hard to be in the varsity boat at Washington, because they are all winners. Winners in the sense that they want to be the very best that they can be,” said Washington women’s coach and former men’s coach Bob Ernst. “At the same time, in our program, they know that they can take a lot of pride in being in the JV boat, varsity four and open four at the IRA and knowing that they all are out there to win.”
No matter which boat they are in during the school year, Washington coaches see potential in their athletes.
“We have a lot of guys just getting better and better and that peak later in their time at Washington,” said Michael Callahan, the Huskies’ men’s head coach. “We have a competitive group, and the important thing is that they’ve been able to develop the skill of winning at each stage of their development.”
The roster of the Under 23 team indicates that not only have some Huskies grasped the skill of winning. They have attacked other rowing opportunities, using the expertise enabled by their time at Washington.
Coxswain Sam Ojserkis, seven-seat Alex Bunkers, six-seat Ryan Schroeder and bow seat Robert Munn of the Washington men’s varsity eight are competing in the Under 23 men’s eight. Three-seat of the men’s second varsity eight, Ambrose Puttmann, rounded out the Washington contingent in the U.S. boat. For Munn and Bunkers, this will be their second consecutive appearance in the event.
Lucas McGee, a former U23 competitor and a Washington assistant coach, is excited to be in his first year of coaching for the Under 23 team.
“It is a real honor to be asked to coach the men’s eight,” said McGee. “Having competed here [Under 23 Championships] before, it is fun to be on the other side.”
In the under 23 four with coxswain, there are three Washington rowers – stroke and five seats of Washington’s men’s second eight, Max Mannisto and Patrick Marre – and Washington varsity four three-seat, Garrett Rinden. Also from UW, Seamus Labrum is the boat’s coxswain.
Both boats won their heats and will be two of the top seeds going into this weekend’s finals.
As an experienced under 23 rower and coach, Callahan holds a development camp in Seattle to choose athletes for the coxed four he coaches at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships Trials and subsequent championship.
According to Callahan, this year, roughly twice as many athletes from across the country applied for the camp. The four Huskies, along with Alex Kornick of the U.S. Naval Academy, had the best results from pairs racing at the camp.
With a short turnaround before Washington’s camp, Callahan took his Huskies plus one to New Jersey to earn their spots on the under 23 team just three weeks ago.
“One thing that Michael Callahan has done in his leadership of the guys program is that he has identified spots where American athletes, in particular, can have a shot at the U-23 team,” said Ernst. “For example, the last two years, he’s taken the guys to the U-23 trials in the coxed four. Basically, they’ve won it for the past two years and now they are competing very effectively on that level. It says a lot about his aggressive and adventuresome nature to think outside the box and pursue those opportunities.”
University of Washington breeds rowers for elite and international competition. The young men from Washington will always be diehard Huskies, but for this week, they are rowing for the United States.
While competing in Lithuania, the Washington contingent has meshed well with the rest of the team and hopes to add another win to the list of 2012 accomplishments.
“This year, there are a lot of returnees, so many of the athletes have relationships with each other from the summer before,” said McGee. “There is really a team atmosphere with four boats actively pulling for each other. The guys on the [under 23] team blend together well; they’ve gotten to this level, and they know what it takes and all want to row for their country.”