With the tough combination of finals and national championship regattas looming on the horizon, the Cal men’s and women’s varsity crews headed to Redwood Shores, California, to face Stanford in the annual Big Row, with both teams coming out with big wins.
The No.1 Cal men raced the scrappy No. 12 Cardinal in the varsity eight, second varsity eight and freshman eight events in the team’s final race before the Pac-12 Championships. The Bears’ varsity eight took a season-long undefeated streak into the rivalry race and was looking to continue posting better times in preparation for the Pac-12 and the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships.
The Bears finished in a time of 5:31 in the varsity eight, besting last week’s time against Washington by seven seconds and overpowering the Stanford eight, which finished in a time of 5:49. The victory clinched an undefeated regular season for the Cal varsity eight, as the boat finished, 7-0.
In the second varsity eight race, the Bears shaved an impressive nine seconds off their time last week and crossed the line in a time of 5:46, finishing 16 seconds ahead of the Cardinal. The second varsity eight, which is Cal’s only eight to drop a race this season, showed up big after its loss to Washington last weekend and clearly made the necessary changes over the last week of practice.
To close out the day, the Cal freshman eight finished its own undefeated season by completing the sweep of Stanford. The Bears completed the 2,000-meter course in a time of 5:47, nearly half a minute ahead of the Cardinal. The Cal men will finish the regular season with the No. 1 ranking, and they will carry the swagger that comes with being the favorite to take the Pac-12 and national championships later this month.
The No. 2 Cal varsity women raced No. 6 Stanford wearing teal uniforms, as both teams raced in honor of former Cal coxswain Jill Costello, who competed with the Bears at the 2010 NCAA championships while fighting a courageous battle against lung cancer.
The Cardinal proved to be a difficult test for the undefeated Cal varsity eight, but the Bears were able to open up a few seats of open water by the end of the race. The team defeated Stanford by three seconds, and Cal posted a course-record time of 6:13.
In the second varsity eight race, the Bears finished six seconds ahead of the Cardinal in a final time of 6:24, as the boat managed to beat out Stanford for the second time this season. The mark set by the Bears was their fastest of the season.
In the final race of the day, the Bears were able to complete an overall sweep in the Big Row. The Cal varsity four, led by coxswain Hannah Freeman and stroke seat Katie Kelly, avenged the Bears’ loss earlier in the season against the Cardinal, which came at the Lake Natoma Invitational. The Bears won a tight race against Stanford, finishing in a time of 7:18, four seconds ahead of Stanford.
“This rivalry is really intense on the water,” said coach Al Acosta to Cal Athletics. “It is a really friendly rivalry on land, and it was good to see some old friends.”
George Wu covers men’s crew. Contact him at [email protected].
A previous version of this article incorrectly displayed the text from a different article about softball.