As the seasons progress for the Cal men’s and women’s crew teams, one thing is becoming more and more clear: Both squads are right in the mix to compete for their respective national titles.
The Bears’ two teams went to different competitions this weekend, but both impressed against tough fields. The women competed at the Lake Natoma Invitational in Gold River, California, while the men headed to Redwood Shores for the Stanford Invitational.
The women’s team had to compete against Brown, which boasts the top crew in the nation. Their competitions ended up evenly matched, with No. 2 Cal taking two of three races Sunday. None of the races were decided by more than a few seconds, and Brown’s lone win came in the second varsity eight race, where it notched a time of 6:18.94. Cal finished right behind in a thrilling race, coming in with a 6:19.91. Stanford finished third, more than 10 seconds behind.
Cal, however, won its other two races, topping Brown and the Cardinal in both the varsity eight and the varsity four competitions. Cal’s varsity eight boat remained undefeated in the young season by tallying a 6:13.13 to beat Stanford and Brown. By twice beating Brown, ranked number one in the nation, Cal proved itself as a force to be reckoned with. The Bears further reinforced their dominance in races against lesser competition such as Gonzaga and Notre Dame.
On Saturday, Cal competed against the Fighting Irish and Iowa and blew out its midwestern foes with ease. The Bears’ varsity eight finished in a time of 6:21.95, about eight seconds ahead of Notre Dame and 12 seconds ahead of Iowa. The second varsity eight race was the closest of the trio, as Cal pulled away to win by about five seconds, with a time of 6:27.64. Meanwhile, the varsity four race displayed the Bears’ command of the event. Neither Notre Dame nor Iowa stood much of a chance against one of the nation’s better crews. Cal crossed the finish line in 7:06.96, almost 17 seconds better than second place and 28 seconds ahead of third place.
The Bears also won all of their races against Gonzaga and Loyola Marymount, finishing at least 10 seconds ahead of the runner up in each race.
Though their margins of victories generally weren’t as great, the No. 4 Cal men also impressed over the weekend, going undefeated against a series of talented crews. The Bears faced two other top-20 teams in No. 17 Wisconsin and No. 19 Oregon State.
Cal raced against the Beavers on Friday and absolutely dominated them. The Bears finished the varsity eight race nearly 32 seconds ahead of Oregon State, while winning the freshman eight by almost 19 seconds. The second varsity eight race was the closest one, but Cal still cruised to a win, finishing 17 seconds before the Beavers.
On Saturday, the Bears matched up with the Badgers for a series of competitive races. Cal’s varsity eight boat came in with a time of 5:37.0, nearly nine seconds better than Wisconsin. The other two races, however, were more difficult for Cal, as it trailed nearly halfway through each one. But the Bears came back to win both the second and third varsity eight races by nearly four seconds, further strengthening their claim to move up the rankings.
Cal also had a few races against weaker competition Saturday and Sunday, and it managed to claim some easy victories, including a 31-second rout of UC Davis and a 14-second win against UC Santa Barbara.
With the men securing their undefeated weekend and the women putting up a fight against the nation’s number one team, both Cal crews seem to be at their best heading into the stretch run of their seasons.