After the men’s team had a disappointing run on the Montlake Cut in Seattle, Cal’s defending NCAA champion and No. 3-ranked women’s rowing team is looking to test its speed against last year’s Pac-12 champions and the current No.1-ranked crew from Washington. On Saturday, the Bears are traveling north to try and assert the same dominance they showed last year and dethrone the Huskies on their own waters.
This year marks the 43rd California-Washington women’s dual. Among these annual meets, the Huskies currently hold 23 wins, four more than Cal’s 19 victories. The Bears are looking to avenge their loss from last year’s contest that broke a three-year winning streak over the Huskies, reclaim the Simpson trophy and make a statement in the process.
The Huskies have been incredibly successful this season and are coming off of wins over top-tier teams No. 5 Michigan and No. 6 Ohio State in Las Vegas. At this year’s San Diego Crew Classic, Washington and Cal exchanged wins, with the Bears taking home the Jessop-Whittier Cup after pulling two seconds ahead, while the Huskies outpaced the Bears to win the Carley Copley Cup by a margin of about eight seconds. This will be a difficult but important test for Cal, as the Pac-12 and NCAA rowing championships are fast approaching. This weekend’s highly anticipated rematch of the crew classic will once again help Cal visualize how it matches up against the team that is predicted to take its NCAA title.
The Bears last competed on the weekend of April 13 on Lake Natoma against impressive talent from Notre Dame, Tulsa, Gonzaga, No. 9 Brown, and the current No. 2-ranked crew in the nation, Stanford. The Bears found great success against the teams that did not hold top-five national rankings but ended the meet by trading wins with Stanford.
Looking forward, Cal will have another opportunity to challenge the Cardinal on May 4, only two weeks before the Pac-12 championships. On Lake Natoma, Cal’s varsity 8 team was ranked No. 2 nationally and was able to surpass Stanford by exactly three seconds in its race. Since this victory, the Bears’ second-place ranking has been overtaken by the Cardinal, who were ranked No. 3 at their last encounter.
This weekend’s races will pit last year’s NCAA champions, the Bears, against the reigning two-time Pac-12 champion Huskies. With races against Stanford in early May, the Bears have the potential to shake up the national rankings, as they are set to take on and potentially upset the current top-two teams in the country.
The next two races are crucial for the Bears and might have the potential to be a blueprint for both the Pac-12 and NCAA championships this year. With the lessons they will learn in their race against Washington, Cal has the potential to both defend its NCAA title and become the new Pac-12 champions.
John Trevor covers rowing. Contact him at [email protected].