With summer in full effect for Cal students, the masses are hitting beaches, rivers and lakes for the chance to cool off. But while some are looking to catch some rays next to the shore, the Cal men’s and women’s crew teams are hoping to bring the heat against their respective competition.
The women will trek east to New Jersey for the NCAA Championships on Friday, while the men’s squad will head to Sacramento County for the International Rowing Association National Championships a week later on June 4.
Cal’s women’s team has been dominant the entire season, sweeping the Big Row against Stanford and winning the Simpson Cup against Washington. The team took 11 of 14 races during the Pac-12 Challenge in early April and swept every race in the Lake Natoma Invitational.
The Bears met their match May 14 during the Pac-12 Championships when the Huskies bit back and swept every race, leaving Cal with only second-place finishes. The loss snapped their two-year win streak at the championship and left a sour taste in the team’s mouth after a near-perfect regular season.
Despite its recent loss, the Cal women’s crew team must carry its head high if it is to repeat as national champions. The team won its third championship in program history last season after narrowly beating out Ohio State 129-126 — three points away from a perfect score. Head coach Al Acosta will eye his second title in three years as coach, while the rest of the team looks to cement themselves as a rowing force.
Like the women, Cal men’s crew would have had a spotless season had it not been for Washington again, the only blemish being its second-place finish in last week’s competition at the Pac-12 championships. In next week’s IRA National Championships, the Bears get a shot to leave a long lasting impression as champions.
Last year, the Bears swept both the Pac-12 and the IRA titles, crowning them as the unquestionable top players in rowing, but this year remains a mystery because of the recent upset last week. With the rowing Goliath falling against the Huskies on May 14, one might wonder whether there be new champions this year.
In the Pac-12 championships, the only boat that beat Washington was the Freshman 8. But was this just a case of bad luck? This entire season the Bears have had a track record of upsetting the Huskies, the win at the Schoch Cup being the most significant.
The men’s team is on the same boat as the women, as it’s looking to repeat as national champions after defeating Princeton, 205-202. In addition, Cal is also looking to continue its streak of 17 straight Varsity 8 titles.
With both seasons winding down, Cal will need to enter its respective competitions with the ferocity it carried throughout the season if they are to repeat as national champions.
Chris Tril covers women’s crew. Contact him at [email protected].