While Cal football spent this past week down under in Australia, members of Cal men’s crew were spending their own week in the waters of Northern Europe. Starting Thursday, 11 members of the team made the trek to Rotterdam in the Netherlands to compete in both the U23 and Junior world championships. The Bears won six medals — four of which were gold — for five different countries during the week-long event.
“I didn’t expect it, honestly,” said a chuckling Mike Teti, head coach of Cal men’s crew. “The last time I saw these guys was at the National Championships in the first week in June. I really didn’t have an idea of how well their boats were going with their international crews.”
The offseason workout regimen for these 11 Bears since winning the IRA National Championships on June 3 proved successful, as none of them failed to impress in the races that took place in the two-day span. This proved especially true for sophomore Ferdi Querfeld and incoming freshman Christoph Seifriedberger who started Thursday at the Willem-Alexander Baan rowing course.
The pair, both natives of Vienna, Austria, edged out Great Britain during the coxless four during their final regatta. With a time of 5:50.20, the Austrian boat beat the British by .4 seconds and finished its race with a comfortable 3.7-second cushion over third-place New Zealand.
Junior Jack Cleary of Perth, Australia, also took home a medal Thursday. In the Aussie coxed four, Cleary and Co. held a lead for most of the race with a gold-medal win in clear sight. An unlikely comeback from both the New Zealand and Italian boats, however, kept Cleary and Australia from clinching first place. The Australians raked in bronze medals at the end of the race with a final time of 6:09.93.
The following day, junior Martin Mackovic of Subotica, Serbia, was one-half of the Serbian tandem that won gold in the pairs race. The duo coasted into first a whole 1.43 seconds ahead of France, which finished with a time of 6:59.44.
Junior Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk — who also participated in the 2016 Olympics — and sophomore Maarten Hurkmans both competed Friday, as well, for Poland and the Netherlands, respectively. Wegrzycki-Szymczyk single-handedly won a silver medal for his country, as he competed in the single sculls event for his home country and finished his race with a time of 7:26.21.
Hurkmans and the rest of the Dutch 8+ took home the gold for the World Championships’ host country. With a time of 5:54.10, the Netherlands’ boat destroyed the competition. Coming in a distant second place was Great Britain, crossing the finish line more than three seconds later.
Although they did not medal, Justin Murphy, Kyle Flagg and Alex Wallis all gained valuable experience at the championships competing for the United States in the men’s eight.
“I thought (the races) were all impressive. It’s sort of like asking my mom who has 10 children which one’s her favorite,” Teti said. “She’s not going to say. They were all exciting races.”
Contact Chris Tril at [email protected].