Cal men’s, women’s crew excel at San Diego Crew Classic

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With the season now officially underway for both the Cal men’s and women’s crew teams, they’re right back to their winning ways. Both Bears squads competed at the San Diego Crew Classic over the weekend, where they nearly swept every race despite some adverse racing conditions and loaded fields of competitors.

The No. 2 Cal women had an especially dominant day of races to follow up a stellar start to the season last weekend at the Pac-12 Invitational in Redwood Shores, California. This weekend, the Bears ran into some tough competition, especially in the form of No. 9 Texas. The Longhorns had an impressive showing, finishing second in four crucial races.

Unfortunately for Texas, it came head-to-head with Cal in every single one of those races and never came all that close to topping the Bears, the nation’s reigning runner up. The closest the Longhorns would come was in the varsity eight race. Texas finished the race in a solid 6:51.682 but couldn’t get past Cal, which zoomed to a finish in under 6:50.00.

The Bears carried their tendency to put up prolific times into their other races, as their second varsity eight, third varsity eight and varsity four all won as well. The second varsity eight, which found itself most concerned with the Longhorns, won in a time of 6:53.673, just fewer than four seconds faster than second-place Texas.

Cal’s ownership of the field extended into the varsity four, where it managed to blow out its opponents. It beat the Longhorns by nearly six seconds and no one else came within even 15 seconds of the Bears. If it maintains this level of rowing excellence, it may be hard to keep Cal from the No. 1 spot, currently occupied by Brown, for long.

The impressive Cal women’s squad was not alone in its ownership of the field in San Diego this weekend, however, as it was joined by the No. 3 Cal men, who were racing for the first time this season. This set of Bears got its season started off impressively, as well, but they ran into another powerhouse of the crew world: Yale.

The Bulldogs more than put up a fight, drawing into question which team belonged as the favorite in a stacked field. The Bears, who picked up silver medals in three of their five races at last year’s Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships, couldn’t quite make their way past a talented Yale squad in the flagship race, the varsity eights.

In fact, the No. 1 Bulldogs, who are tied with Cal’s rival Washington atop the polls, made things look easy. They zipped right past the Bears, winning the race by more than two lengths with a time of 5:58.76. As the only team to finish in under six minutes, Yale was in a class of its own.

Meanwhile, Cal made up for things in the second varsity eight. It helped prove itself as of the same caliber as the Bulldogs and, more importantly, the Huskies, who were a consistent thorn in the Bears’ side last season. In what was Yale’s only other race at the San Diego Crew Classic, it looked like the Bulldogs would again prove to be superior to Cal.

They were right at the front of the pack all race long with the Bears. But Cal staked its own claim as one of the very top crews, winning in 6:07.074, more than two seconds ahead of Yale. The Bears also won the third varsity eight, this time by nearly 30 seconds with no Bulldogs in the field, and the freshman eight to cap off a strong regatta.

With the Cal men and women’s seasons under way, neither side has done anything early in the season to establish themselves as anything but national title contenders, something the Bears will look to build on as their schedules will give them more opportunities to test themselves moving forward.

Hooman Yazdanian is the assistant sports editor. Contact him at hyaz[email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @hoomanyazdanian