This Week in Bears: Natan Węgrzycki-Szymczyk honored, Stanford’s road ban lifted, new playing surfaces and Jack Clark criticizes hit

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This Week in Bears features a plethora of topics, including Natan Węgrzycki-Szymczyk winning Pac-12 Men’s Rowing Athlete of the Year, the Stanford Band’s road ban being lifted, an examination of new playing surfaces at Memorial Stadium and Haas Pavilion and Cal rugby head coach Jack Clark’s comments on the hit which injured Robert Paylor. 

Węgrzycki-Szymczyk: Cal junior Natan Węgrzycki-Szymczyk has been named Pac-12 Men’s Rowing Athlete of the Year for a second consecutive season, according to the conference office. Węgrzycki-Szymczyk becomes the second athlete to earn the honor in back-to-back years.

The junior helped lead the Bears’ Varsity 8 to an undefeated regular season and earned the No. 1 ranking in the nation for a majority of the season. Węgrzycki-Szymczyk has now earned All-Pac-12 recognition for a third season in a row.

“Natan is among the most talented athletes I have ever been associated with,” said head coach Mike Teti in a CalBears press release.

Also receiving recognition are teammates sophomores Joachim Sutton and Maarten Hurkmans who earned All-Conference Selections for the first time in their careers.

Sutton, coming off a stellar freshman campaign in which he won the 2016 Pac-12 Men’s Newcomer of the Year, spent most of 2017 as the six-seat in the first Varsity 8 while Hurkmans shined as the five-seat.

Cal men’s crew had the second-most athletes on the All-Conference Team and its three selections were second only to Washington’s four nominees.

Stanford: Stanford officials have lifted a majority of the sanctions placed on the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band, meaning the group can once again travel on the road and invade Bear Territory.

In January, Provost John Etchemendy placed a provisional status on the band because of a series of issues. Etchemendy believes the students have transformed the culture of the band and removed the provisional status, lifted the travel ban and granted the band with “good standing.”

Stanford will host the Big Game this season, but without another incident, the band will be eligible to make an appearance at Memorial Stadium in 2018. The band will also make an appearance.

Under Armour: With Under Armour’s partnership with Cal athletics comes upgrades to various facilities across campus, including newly designed playing surfaces for California Memorial Stadium and Haas Pavilion.

The court’s construction has been completed while the football field’s redesign is currently in its final stages.

Memorial Stadium’s previous turf will be replaced with FieldTurf, which has been voted the top artificial surfaced by the NFLPA for 10 consecutive years and is used by 22 NFL teams and a majority of Pac-12 programs.

Each end zone will don the new Sather Stripe design and font with the “California” and “Golden Bears” wordmarks. A gold script “Cal” will once again run across the 50-yard line. Memorial Stadium will also have a jagged mark that will run across the opposite corners of the field, done so to represent the stadium’s location in reference to the Hayward Fault.

Haas Pavilion will now have the blue Cal script logo at center court with the Sather Stripe at both baselines, spelling out “California” and “Golden Bears” in a manner similar to Memorial Stadium.

Under Armour’s deal with Cal allowed the school to update the playing surfaces without charge. The deal between the two parties went into effect June 1, and the 10-year deal is worth nearly $86 million in cash and product. According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, the deal includes, “a $3 million signing bonus, $3.5 million in cash per year and an average annual product allowance of $4.76 million.”

Paylor: Cal rugby head coach Jack Clark has expressed that the hit which caused Robert Paylor’s injury during the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup was illegal.

“Robert’s injury was preventable,” Clark said, according to a Mercury News article. “It was the result of illegal foul play. There is end-goal video footage as well as photography that makes this indisputable. Those materials are now in the hands of USA Rugby, which has opened an investigation into the incident.”

It has been confirmed by USA Rugby Collegiate Director Rich Cortez that an investigation into the situation has been initiated.

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