The No. 2 Cal men’s crew team headed to its home course in Redwood Shores, California, this weekend to race No. 11 Wisconsin at the 2,000-meter course on the East Bay, and the Bears had an easy time of it, sweeping the Badgers.
Wisconsin, which is coached by Cal alumnus Chris Clark, fielded its first, second and third varsity boats against the Bears, who raced their varsity and second varsity boats. In the third varsity event, the Bears raced their freshman eight against the third varsity boat from Wisconsin, giving the freshmen a chance to gain additional race experience.
In the race between the two first varsity eights, the Bears started strong and steadily built up their lead, going up two lengths of open water over the Badgers by the 1,000-meter mark. Cal extended its lead further over the second 1,000 meters and ended with a furious sprint over the last 250 meters to finish in a season-best time of 5:34.1, which was more than 19 seconds ahead of the Badgers.
While Wisconsin was snowed in, the additional water practice the Bears were able to get in through the winter showed in the second and third races of the day, as they displayed a high level of technical ability en route to sweeping the rest of the day’s races. The second varsity eight led Wisconsin wire to wire, constantly expanding its lead, and the Bears crossed the line in a time of 5:41.3.
The freshman eight from Cal managed to beat out Wisconsin’s third varsity eight, which consisted mostly of upperclassmen, in a close race. The two boats jostled back and forth at the beginning of the race, but the Bears managed to establish a significant lead halfway through the race and eventually finished in a time of 5:43.8, ahead of the 5:58.8 mark from Wisconsin.
After the race, Cal head coach Mike Teti praised the technical improvements made by the team and also remarked that he was expecting Wisconsin to pick up a significant amount of speed, as the team caught up in practice time on the water.
To close out the day, the Bears raced two four-man boats against each other and also sent their fourth varsity eight and second freshman eight against Santa Clara. The fourth varsity eight from Cal finished in a time of 5:55.7, beating out Santa Clara by more than 18 seconds. The second freshman eight had a more difficult race due to some wind but managed to cross the line in a time of 5:48.0 to defeat Santa Clara, which recorded a 5:52.4.
To close out the day, the Bears raced two fours against each other. The first varsity four crossed the finish line in a time of 6:21, and the rowers in the second varsity four managed to put up a good fight, finishing only seven seconds off of the varsity boat’s pace.
“I thought all the boats performed really well,” Teti said to Cal Athletics. “It was definitely an upgrade over the last couple weeks. It is really important that the whole team does well. They are all trying to develop.”
George Wu covers men’s crew. Contact him at [email protected].