Power Rankings: No. 6 women’s crew

Team Jill.2013

Editor’s Note: Over summer, the Daily Californian will be releasing its power rankings of Cal’s sports as decided by the Daily Cal sports staff. Stay tuned for No. 4 and No. 3 next week!

The Cal women’s crew team has always been one of Cal’s more impressive varsity teams, despite being so underrated.

In the past six years, the Bears have consistently placed in the top three of the overall NCAA Championships. Although the team took a dip to No. 7 in 2007, the Bears clinched the NCAA victory for two consecutive years prior.

So it’s no surprise that The Daily Californian’s list of the top 10 Cal sports teams ranked the Bears at No. 6.

Actually, the team’s stats this year may even make the Bears entitled to a slightly higher ranking on our list, at maybe the No. 5 or No. 4 position.

Ever since the team captured the NCAA Team Championship title eight years ago, the Bears have been lingering around the No. 2 and No. 3 positions, most recently finishing in third for the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

This year, the Bears came extremely close to matching the high feats of their 2005 and 2006 seasons.

They were only two points shy of winning another NCAA Team Championship — trailing champion Ohio State by that slight margin but staying more than 10 points ahead of third-place Princeton and fourth-place conference opponent USC. But don’t let that brutally close finish distract you from the fact that several of the individual teams garnered impressive clutch performances in the NCAA grand final events.

The Bears placed second overall in the second varsity eight — making 2013 the tenth time the Bears have placed among the top three in the past 11 years.

The women’s rowing varsity eight also captured the NCAA title in the event’s grand final for the first national championship in the varsity eight since 2005. The Bears swiftly surpassed No. 2 Princeton by more than a second and overall NCAA Championship winner Ohio State by almost two seconds.

“Today was a complete team effort capped off by a fantastic race by the first eight,” Cal coach Dave O’Neill said after the NCAA grand final. “They understood this was one last golden opportunity to make it a great year. They certainly took advantage of this last chance, and I could not be more proud of them.”

O’Neill was being humble when he said that the team’s varsity eight performance would establish whether or not the Bears could claim “greatness” for this year.

The team started the season off in March with three straight victories over Oklahoma, Clemson and Northeastern in the Pac-12 Challenge.

The Bears later captured three grand finals at the Lake Natoma Invitational in April, and despite splitting four races against Washington just one week later, the Bears came back to sweep Stanford in the Big Row for the fourth straight year.

In May, the team notched its sixth consecutive Pac-12 title, and then the Bears ended the year with that close second-place finish at the NCAAs.

So if O’Neill had even said that the team accumulated some its best results this year than in the past few seasons, I would wholeheartedly agree.

And with the team retaining several of its key rowers, like rising senior Rachel Ersted and rising junior Lindsay Meltz, the Bears look like they’ll have another shot at finally taking home an overall NCAA title.

 

Contact Janice Chua at [email protected].

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