Both the Cal varsity men’s and women’s crew teams made the trip to Gold River — near Sacramento, California — this weekend to compete in the Pac-12 Championships against the best crews in the conference, with the men taking home second overall and the women capturing the Pac-12 title.
In the women’s varsity four race, the Bears found themselves in fifth place at the 1,000-meter mark but managed to mount a strong charge during the race’s second half. Cal pushed past Stanford and USC, finishing in a time of 7:36. This was good for third place, with the Bears five seconds behind second-place Washington State and six seconds behind first-place Washington.
In the race between third varsity eights, the Bears were able to improve their performance by holding onto second place from start to finish. Again, Cal’s team was unable to catch the crew from Washington, which finished in an impressive time of 6:47, 11 seconds ahead of the Bears.
The second varsity eight was the Bears’ third race of the day and proved to be the most thrilling yet. They again found themselves neck and neck with the Cougars halfway through the race as both crews attempted to chase down the Huskies. Cal eventually took second place in a time of 6:44, managing to get past Washington State but unable to get past Washington.
Going into the varsity eight race, the Bears found themselves looking up at the Huskies for the overall-points trophy. The undefeated Cal varsity eight headed out for the final race of the day, needing to make up this margin. The Bears left no doubts about the final result, as they blew past Washington in the first 1,000 meters and pushed past Stanford in the second 1,000, finishing in a time of 6:30. Cal got some help from its traditional rival Stanford as the Cardinal managed to hold off Washington to claim second place in the varsity eight, which was good enough to secure the overall-points trophy for the Bears.
Meanwhile, the No. 1 Cal varsity men had what could be described only as a disappointing regatta, despite comfortably securing second place in every event. The Bears were in close contention with the Huskies in four out of the five races, with Cal even holding small leads at points during a few of the races. Unfortunately for the Bears, they were unable to hold onto any of those leads and close out No. 2 Washington. The Huskies swept the regatta and established themselves as the favorites to capture the IRA Championships two weeks from now.
In the varsity four race, Washington blew away the field, with a time of 6:33, 10 seconds ahead of the second-place Bears. In the novice-eight event, the Bears stayed on the Huskies’ bow the entire race. Cal, however, was unable to make the necessary move to capture the lead, eventually finishing in a time of 5:57, just three seconds behind Washington.
The Huskies also captured the third varsity eight in a time of 5:58, again only two seconds ahead of the Bears. The Bears held a small lead at the 1,000-meter mark but faded over the second half of the race — a storyline that held for the rest of the day.
The Bears stayed even with the Huskies through the first 1,000 meters of the second varsity eight race, but again were unable to close out the race and finished five seconds behind the Huskies in a time of 5:59.
In the premier event of the day, the men’s varsity eight, the Bears got off to a fast start, holding a full second lead over Washington at the 1,000-meter mark. But Washington proved to be too much for Cal over the second 1,000 and finished in 5:45 — three seconds ahead of the Bears.
The varsity men took home the overall silver medal and the understanding that they will still have to find more speed to take home the national title in New Jersey two weeks from now. The varsity women put in a performance to be proud of and look to be contenders for the national title.
George Wu covers men’s crew. Contact him at [email protected].