Hot off a sweep at the annual Stanford Invitational on April 13, Cal men’s rowing had a busy weekend with boats in Washington on Saturday and in Oregon the next day.
Just as the No. 4 Bears had looked like they were about to return to their winning ways after topping No. 22 Hobart College and No. 14 Wisconsin at Redwood Shores last week, Cal was unable to climb the rankings or pass its former IRA championship rivals as the team challenged No. 2-ranked Washington.
On the waters of the Montlake Cut, the Bears met the Huskies for their 108th annual dual with the hopes of claiming the Schoch Cup this year. Unfortunately, Cal came up short as it was completely swept by the speed of Washington’s teams despite some close contests.
The freshman 8+ kicked off Saturday’s races by clocking in at 5:55.96, about four seconds slower than Washington. Cal’s third varsity 8+ and second varsity 8+ finished their races in 5:47.82 and 5:39.85 but lost by margins of four seconds and two seconds, respectively. The Bears varsity 8+ also fell just short, trailing the Huskies by just over three seconds.
This weekend’s test against Washington was particularly important considering the competitive history between these teams. At the 2018 IRA regatta, Cal’s second and third varsity 8+ teams fell just behind Washington, which earned first place in those races. In the varsity 8+ grand finals of last year’s IRA regatta, both teams finished behind Yale’s winning team, with Washington earning second and Cal following in third. In their 108 annual duals, Cal currently holds a record of 32-75-1.
The Bears were unable to reclaim the Schoch Cup they had lost at the last Cal-Washington dual, but the close races showed real competition between the two schools. With the Pac-12 and IRA championships next month, Cal and Washington are going to meet again. The current top five national varsity 8+ teams are as follows: Yale in first, then Washington followed by Harvard; in fourth is Cal and lastly, Brown in fifth place.
On Vancouver Lake, Cal was able to uphold its national ranking as the team bested No.18 Oregon State. After being swept in Washington, the Bears were able to bounce back and find redemption by winning each of their races against Oregon State.
In the same race, Cal’s freshman 8 and third varsity 8 earned first and second with respective times of 6:08.59 and 6:10.83 to beat Oregon State’s third varsity 8’s time of 6:38.41. In the race between the varsity 8 crews, the Bears took the victory in 5:47.40 and led the Beavers by a margin of more than 13 seconds.
Unshaken by the results in Washington and pleased by the races in Oregon, head coach Scott Frandsen praised the resilience of his team in a statement and said the Bears have “a tangible result to build off over the next four weeks in the leadup to Pac-12s.”
Before taking on the Pac-12 championship May 19, the men’s crew team will be returning to Redwood Shores on Saturday to face No.13 Stanford. If the Bears are able to display some impressive performances and pull off quick finishes against the Cardinal, it would not only solidify their nationally recognized top-five ranking but also prove them to be a challenge not to be slept on as national championships approach in the coming month.
John Trevor covers rowing. Contact him at [email protected].