In response to COVID-19, and in adherence to Seattle University and Washington State policy, Seattle University Men’s Crew was did not practice or race spring 2020.
After working with Seattle University administration, SU Men’s rowing was able to return fall 2020. In accordance with COVID guidelines, SU Men’s crew has returned to water practice in one and two person boats.
This was the 2018-2019 season of Seattle University Men’s Crew in its most basic form, stripped of the dedication, anxiety, and relief of winning the program’s first Varsity Four National Championship. For all members of the title-winning crew, from stroke seat Derek Heath to coxswain Lucy Brezynski, the victory at Lake Lanier Olympic Park in Gainesville Georgia on May 26 seemed out of reach just one month prior.
Competing at the Western Regional Championship in April, Seattle placed third in the coxed four event, behind crews from the University of Santa Clara and UC Santa Barbara. While only three seconds separated gold from bronze, such a defeat forecasted an ominous result at nationals, which features a deeper and more competitive field. The monumental task demanded discipline and extra practices. However, the four rowers, coxswain, and coach were united behind each other and a common goal to become champions.
All members of the boat had fought or chosen to compete at nationals. Bobby Murray and Derek Heath, the winners of the Men’s Pair at the Western Championships, selected to compete in the varsity four. Liam Connor had earned his spot in the varsity boat as a freshman, balancing school and rowing all while relocating to a new state and environment. Ben Clarke had seat-raced into the lineup just before the regional championship, and weighing in at 155 pounds, he was one of the few lightweights competing in an open weight event. Finally, Lucy Brezynski had lost her spot in the boat earlier in the season, but with Nationals in mind, continued improving before seizing an opportunity to earn her way back into the lineup just two weeks prior.
As Seattle U lineup against George Mason, Michigan, Clemson, Washington State, and others in the Grand Final, the outcome remained a tossup. George Mason, the defending champions who also posted the fastest time in heats on Friday, posed the largest threat. Win or lose, however, it would be the Redhawk’s race. Under the guidance of head coach Nichole Martin, the five students in the boat had thrown themselves at the challenge knowing there might only be a slim chance of success against East Coast crews they had never faced this season.
Picking up the race halfway through, the broadcast crew called Seattle U up in front and “Obliterating” their competition.
Not only had the majority of Seattle University’s team made the long trip to Georgia, but half of the team was in the winning boat. One of the smallest crews in the country, with nothing more than stubbornness on their side, experienced crushing defeat only to commit harder and win it all.
Six days removed from the most successful WIRA Championships in program history, the 2018-2019 team continued pioneering into uncharted waters for Seattle University. With bows aligned with the University of Washington, University of Puget Sound, and UC Santa Barbara, the Redhawks sent their first V8+ down the Montlake Cut on Opening Day.
Taking the course just minutes before the Huskies’ eagerly awaited race against the Deutschland-Achter, Seattle U clawed their way to a second place finish. With cowbells, yelling, and yacht horns amplifying the electricity in the air, Seattle U was dealt a calamitous situation immediately out of the starting line. The University of Puget Sound, from lane 2, veered to starboard during their high 10, pinching the Santa Barbara Gauchos between them and the Redhawks. Six-seat Carson Huseby rattled his blade off the bow deck of UCSB, while stroke-seat Derek Heath pushed and fought his oar through the other crew. Unfazed, the Redhawks didn’t miss a beat, and as UCSB slowed down, Seattle saw their window to escape clear.
Settling into a rhythm of 40 strokes per minute, noise from the sidelines crescendoed as the red and white Pocock boat flew through the Montlake Cut. An open water advantage over third place gave Seattle the benefit of dropping a final sprint from the race plan, coasting across the 2000m mark with a final time of 6:18.991.
Only the ACRA Championships in Gainesville, GA stands between Seattle and the end of their season now. Departing from Sea-Tac International on May 22, it’s a dead sprint to end the year on a high note. In a season full of firsts, it seems appropriate to now chase the first-ever Varsity 4+ National Championship in program history.
The 2018-2019 season has been an incredible year of development, and it continues to promise thrilling results for Seattle University Men’s Crew. Just days away from the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships, now is the time for the Redhawks to back up their early season success against the best crews from the west coast.
As is typical with rowing, however, the performance on race day is a product of training that happened in the weeks and months prior. The support from friends, family, and alumni have given our rowers and coxswains the strength to push through isolated winter break training and early spring mornings.
With 12 rowers and 3 coxswains competing across five events over two days, Men’s Crew needs your help to succeed at Lake Natoma in Sacramento, California. While we’ll take care of the racing, your donations will help our team with the following this weekend:
Trophy Engraving (hopefully)
Championships aren’t won by accident. It takes a team of dedicated athletes, coaches, and supporters to bring one home. With your help, Men’s Crew will hold onto the Men’s Varsity Double trophy and chase after titles in the Varsity 4+, Pair, Lightweight 4+, and Novice 4+.
Fending off competition from Humboldt State and Washington State University, the Seattle U Redhawks won their third consecutive V4+ title at the Collegiate Covered Bridge Regatta. Beginning their run in 2016, the crew from Capitol Hill missed the chance to defend their title last year when the regatta was canceled due to high winds. With calm conditions in the grand final this year, the Redhawks crossed the line at 7:05.9 while holding an open water advantage over the second place Lewis and Clark Pioneers. Winning with a combination of juniors and one sophomore, the young varsity squad is eager to return to Dexter Reservoir in 2020 to pursue a fourth consecutive title.
The Seattle U Lightweight 4+, racing in the open weight event, finished third in the petite final registering a 7:42.4 time.
Despite leaving Eugene in high spirits and with medals in hand, the day started out cold, wet, and windy. During alignment, the SU Novice 4+ saw two stake boats capsize, including their own. Officials raced to sweep up the bobbing swimmers before calling for an impromptu floating start.
Later, during the Varsity 4+ A Heat, blustering winds sent whitecaps crashing into final 500 meters of the course and the outside lane offered no protection from the elements. Just as quickly as the conditions shifted, the Redhawks’ V4+ needed to adjust their race plan. Stroke seat Derek Heath lowered the rate, coxswain Chloe Farison called for more tap down, and the whole boat relied on unbroken concentration to push through.
Now, Seattle U looks ahead to their championship season. With just three races left in the year – WIRAs, Opening Day, ACRAs – the fight to the finish is underway. On April 11, head coach Nichole Martin announced the Men’s Crew lineups for the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships in Sacramento, CA. Racing will take place on Lake Natoma between April 27-28 and features 5 different SU boats.
While 2019 has been the year of the 4+ for Seattle U, the Redhawks will do their best to retain their dominion in the small boats category. Second-year varsity rowers Derek Heath and Bobby Murray will make their return in the pair after placing in the silver medal position last year, 0.9 seconds behind UCLA. Meanwhile, junior Ben Clarke, now joined by Carson Huseby, will be hoping to keep the Men’s Double trophy after winning the event last year in dominant (and stylish) fashion.
Seattle U arrived at the Conibear Shellhouse at 8:00 AM knowing they would need to dial in their top speed to reestablish themselves in the Collegiate Men’s 4+. The Redhawks had not competed against the University of Washington in a 2,000 km race since Opening Day in 2017 when they finished 4th behind the Huskies, UCD, and UCSB. Meanwhile, pursuing the pair and double last season meant Seattle U had not fielded a Varsity 4+ in over a year during the spring season. Some early season success hinted at a return to glory, but Husky Open was the Redhawks’ first chance to prove their merit against the fastest collegiate crew in the world.
The light from early morning sun ran across the flat water of Lake Washington as the openweight and lightweight boats launched from Conibear and paddled to the warm-up area on the square. Up against UW, Lewis & Clark, and Washington State University, Husky Open saw the Redhawks reaffirm their clout in the coxed four. Both Seattle U boats finished second in heats, and the openweight lineup notched the third fastest overall time behind the Huskies’ A and B boats.
The results represented a giant step forward for the entire program. With times of 6:47.6 and 7:20.2, the Redhawks are lining up for dual Grand Final appearances at the WIRA championships at the end of April. Head coach Nichole Martin was pleased with the results, saying to the team afterward that she saw “Solid rows and times from both boats.”
The success at Husky Open gave way to a well-deserved rest for the Redhawks after a week of training over spring break. With two-a-day practices Monday-Friday leading up the race, oarsmen and coxswains spent time on start sequences, film review, and race plans. While rowers had to fight through lactic acid to get there, the opportunity to concentrate entirely on rowing produced fantastic results. The Varsity Lightweight boat (S-Clarke, Thomas, Gibbons, B-Thelin, C-Brezynski) improved their 2k by 40 seconds from Tuesday to Saturday, a trend they hope to carry into the next week when Seattle U travels to Dexter Lake in Eugene, Oregon for the Collegiate Covered Bridge Regatta.
Life as a full-time rower doesn’t last forever, though. The Redhawks return to their regular schedule of Row-School-Row on Monday as the new spring quarter begins. Despite homework assignments and regrettable sleep habits making their return, SU Men’s Crew is looking forward to the final months of its season. With two promising performances complete and four races to go, the young Redhawk squad is eager to become the biggest threat on any schedule.
Men’s Crew delivered on their high expectations during their third visit to American Lake in the 2018-2019 season.
Competing in five events at the Pacific Lutheran Invitational, Seattle U podiumed in four races against Western Washington University, University of Puget Sound, and PLU. The Redhawks’ Varsity 4+ took home top honors, crossing the line ahead of the next crew by over 40 meters. Locked in a dead heat with WWU for the first 1,000 meters, SU pulled out a canvas ahead before dropping the hammer with a high-rate final sprint.
In the eights races, SU came close to breaking the 7-minute mark, coming up just short with a 7:02.2 time. Two hours earlier, the Western Washington Vikings posted the fastest 2k of the day, coming in at 6:46.1, seven seconds ahead of the second place UPS Loggers.
While the PLU Invite has always been a “friendly” scrimmage for Puget Sound crews to get together, 2019 united the PNW in a whole new way. Despite being on the calendar for months, disaster almost kept Seattle U out of both eights races. While trailer loading, SU discovered a crack in the hull of their Pocock 8+, the Doug Short. A repair too severe to fix overnight (even with a roll of duct tape), Men’s Crew didn’t have many options to save their race day. Fortunately, the University of Puget Sound loaned the Seattle crew one of their eights on last minute notice.
It’s been six years since the last Raptor Cup between Seattle U and Seattle Pacific University. With the SPU Men’s Team folding after 2014, it seemed unlikely to see SU Men’s Crew go head to head against the Falcons anytime soon.
On March 2, however, the Redhawks and SPU Women’s team revived the rivalry and battled it out in Fremont Canal for a friendly scrimmage ahead of the PLU Invite on March 9.
Despite the sunny conditions, the air was a crisp 39 degrees as the Seattle winter continues rolling into March. With the Men’s team coming off a 2k test on land the night before also, the morning was as much about racing as endurance.
Matching up for a 2,000-meter race and two 1,000-meter sprints, Seattle U sent their varsity 4+ to line up against SPU’s varsity 8+ and 2v8+, and throughout the morning, no lead was safe. Despite the straight course, it was a coxswain’s race down the Fremont Canal as each boat challenged and responded to their competition. Starting with stern tips even, the SeattleU 4+ had to fight their way through the Falcon v8+ to cross the finish line first.
The pancakes at breakfast tasted a bit sweeter with W’s for both crews. When the wakes had settled, SPU took the starting 2k while SeattleU grabbed wins during the two 1k sprints.
SeattleU also sent their varsity 2x and a mixed novice/varsity 8+ to the line against SPU’s novice 8+. All around, it was a great scrimmage for the crews who made the most of the chilly morning in Fremont.
Saturday practice was extra special for the Men’s Crew team. With temperatures still hanging around 40° and rain in the forecast, SeattleU spent the morning at the Pocock Rowing Center training on RowPerfect 3s.
Strength coach Doug Woodward introduced the differences between an RP3 and Concept2 Ergs. Providing feedback on such factors as stroke length, peak power, and force distribution, it was a unique opportunity to receive instant visual feedback on every stroke.
Starting at 16 strokes per minute, rowers had time to get comfortable with the machines before finishing the day with higher rate work. For most oarsmen, it was their first time on an RP3, and the data visualization pointed out areas in the stroke that each rower can work on. Head coach Nichole Martin is planning a return trip to Pocock so rowers can check in on their progress as they continue training into Spring.
Just two weeks away from the Pacific Lutheran University Invitational on March 9th, it was the perfect opportunity for the Redhawks to build technique at race pace.
On January 26th, Seattle University Men’s Crew headed to Ergomania, the Northwest Indoor Rowing Championships. Hosted by the George Pocock Rowing Foundation, the event featured over 330 athletes and enthusiasts competing in a variety of races. Taking a day off from the water, the Redhawks won six medals across three events, including a sweep of the Men’s Open / Collegiate 2,000 meter race.
Nearly all varsity members of the Men’s Crew team were able to compete except for a few rowers (and two coxswains). Across the 2,000m events, five rowers were able to achieve a new personal best time. Junior oarsmen Tommy Dang and Derek Heath set the tone for the Redhawks on their first 2k of the season, notching the fastest in-team lightweight and heavyweight times.
NW Ergomania Results
Men’s Open 2k
Men’s Open Lightweight 2k
Men’s Open 500m Dash
Derek Heath 🥇
Alex Twist 🥇
Bobby Murray 🥇
Liam Connor 🥈
David O. Smith 🥈
Liam Connor 🥈
Bobby Murray 🥉
Tommy Dang 🥉
Chris Weber 🥉
Attendees at Ergomania weren’t the only ones to take notice of Seattle University’s impressive showing. Fat Ergos, one of the largest rowing accounts on Instagram, shared a photo of SU Junior Bobby Murray wearing his gold medal following the 500m Dash event.
With the opening salvo of 2k racing season complete, the Redhawks turn their attention to the Pacific Lutheran University Invitational on March 9th at American Lake in Lakewood, WA. The regatta traditionally serves as a trial run for many of Seattle U’s racing lineups, as well as the first ever race for the novice rowers on Men’s Crew. The invite pits several Pacific Northwest colleges against each other in a friendly scrimmage, with PLU, University of Puget Sound, and Western Washington University among the most frequent competitors.