Cal men’s rowing takes 3rd at IRA National Championships

Michael Paiva/Courtesy

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The spring rowing season came to a bittersweet end for the Cal men’s rowing team Saturday, as it placed third overall at the IRA National Championships. Though the Bears finished on the podium, marking yet another successful season for the team, it was also the last regatta of Mike Teti’s 10-year career as Cal head coach.

The regatta, which took place in West Windsor, New Jersey, threw some unexpected curveballs at the participants and fans. Incoming storms in surrounding areas made for a windy weekend but more importantly created choppy waters that undoubtedly had a substantial effect on the races.

Cal’s squads in all four events (varsity eight, second varsity eight, third varsity eight and varsity four) managed to work their way through the group stages and on to the semifinal. Again, all four events saw Cal finish in the top three, which set up Sunday races for every boat.

In the second varsity eight, Cal took second, finishing just behind Washington, while it coincidentally placed third in the third varsity eight, with Washington in first and Harvard in second. Unfortunately, the varsity four final was cancelled because of weather, so those results will never be known.

The varsity eight is the main event in virtually every regatta, and the Intercollegiate Rowing Association actually has a larger trophy for the winner of that individual race than for the overall team winner. Cal has won that race 17 times in its history and was looking to rebound off of a poor (for its standards) fifth-place finish in 2017.

Seeding from the semifinals determined rowing lanes for the grand final, and the Golden Bears only managed to place third in the semifinal Saturday. Because of the choppy water conditions, it seemed as though they were getting the rough end of the stick compared to other boats’ lanes, but there was nothing they could do at that point.

The men started the race off with a strong burst, and they immediately established themselves ahead of the pack with Yale and Washington. Ultimately, Cal fell behind, and Yale claimed the race title for the second year an a row, while the Bears took home the bronze in the Varsity Challenge Cup.

While the ultimate goal of this season was to give Mike Teti his third national title as a Cal head coach before he goes on to prepare the United States men’s national team for the 2020 Summer Olympics, it was a successful season nonetheless. Current associate head coach Scott Frandsen, who won three national titles during his time rowing for Cal, will take over as head coach and look to keep the program among collegiate rowing’s elite.

Shailin Singh covers crew. Contact him at [email protected].