For the second year in a row, men’s rowing became the Pac-12 champions after dominating races against teams including Washington and Oregon State.
The regatta was split differently for the championship than it was for regular season races, as it now had V8+, V4+, 2V8+, 3V8+ and freshmen V8+ crews.
“It was a great weekend for the team,” said head coach Scott Frandsen. “Really proud of how all the crews raced, and especially the varsity. They really took a step on and looked great but also great races from the second varsity and the freshmen coming back from being behind to win in a close one — was a great race.”
In regular season races, Cal puts more of a focus on its eight-boat crews, but that did not seem to be a problem this weekend. The Bears’ V4+ crew finished its race first at 6:24.27, with Washington following at 6:26.6.
“It was great to get out there and show all the hard work we have been doing and putting in for the last couple of months,” said senior Harry Cox. “It’s really one team trying to meet a couple of goals that we set out in the beginning, which were to win all the boat races, and unfortunately we missed out on one of the boats, but we are definitely on track and looking to improve going into the nationals.”
Although the rest of the crews had a successful weekend, there is still work to be done on the 3V8+ crew as it finished its race second, following behind Washington.
When the Bears were in Husky territory in late April, they had a similar setback with the 3V8+ crew losing to Washington in a dual race, finishing two seconds after Washington.
“They had shown some really good speed in practice leading up to it, but just didn’t put it together on race day,” Frandsen said. “I think Washington’s third varsity is really fast, so trying to get up to that level and perform on race day is the challenge with that boat.”
Between the Bears’ last race against Washington and now, there seems to have been a lapse in the 3V8+ ability to keep up. Washington previously finished at 5:40.304, and had a time of 5:46.669 at the Pac-12 championship. The blue and gold saw a similar loss in speed, having had a time of 5:42.809 against Washington but finishing at 5:54.189 last weekend.
Following the Pac-12 championship and heading into the Intercollegiate Rowing Association, or IRA, championship, the Bears will begin to cut down on crews. Cal will have three varsity crews and a V4+ crew at the IRA championship; based on this weekend, Cal will switch around the 3V8+, freshmen V8+ and V4+ to make the final 3V8+ and V4+ crews.
The Bears failed to repeat a top result on the women’s side, however. Throughout the season, Stanford and Washington have remained a constant competition for the Bears, and that did not change this weekend. At the Pac-12 championships, the Bears came in third behind Washington and Stanford.
At the end of the championships, the Bears totaled 33 points, 10.5 points behind Stanford’s winning total.
Last year’s Pac-12 championship was very similar to this year, both in scores and placements, as the top three teams were in the same order: Stanford, Washington and Cal.
Going into the championship, Cal head coach Al Acosta wanted the Bears to “go faster than (they) have gone all year.” Although that may have not necessarily come into fruition, the Bears still placed in either second or third in every event.
Cal saw close races in the 3V8+ and freshmen V8+ events, coming in second behind Stanford for both.
In both the 3V8+ and freshmen V8+ races, the Bears only trailed Stanford by a little over a second. The 3V8+ finished at 6:33.759 to Stanford’s 6:32.269, while the freshmen V8+ had a time of 6:41.157 to Stanford’s 6:40.109.
Now, the Bears have until May 26 until they are off to the NCAA championships, where their competition will be taken to another level as the stakes get higher.