Entering the home stretch: Cal has eyes set on Pac-12 championships

photo of the Cal women's rowing team competing
Karen Chow/File

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This weekend, Cal men’s and women’s rowing are officially entering the championship stretch as they head to Sacramento to race at the Pac-12 championships. The Bears will look to perform well this weekend in hopes to gear up for their respective national championships: the IRAs for the men and the NCAAs for the women.

Both teams are coming off rather disappointing performances at the Windermere Cup in Seattle just two weekends ago. Of all of Cal’s men’s and women’s boats, only the men’s third varsity eight recorded a win over Washington in the Cup.

For both teams, the championship stretch comes at a stressful time. The Bears have been balancing training for the biggest regatta of the season thus far and studying for finals week.

“They’re doing a lot of studying and a lot of academic work,” said women’s head coach Al Acosta. “So when they have the opportunity to come up and row for 90 minutes or so, I think they’re happy to have the opportunity for a little study break and to focus on something else.”

As far as rowing goes for the women’s team, the past few weeks have been focused on rearranging the Bears’ seating charts.

“That’s kind of a process that goes on all year long,” Acosta said. “In these past couple weeks it just kind of heats up and now we got our lineups set and people know what boat they’re going to race in, what seat they’re going to sit in.”

As for the men’s team, the focus has been on catching a familiar foe: Washington. For senior George Finlayson, it’s clear that the team has their sights set on a revenge victory this weekend.

“We’ve been working on our speed and trying to make those gains so we give ourselves a chance to win against Washington this weekend,” Finlayson said. “Across the board, there’s been a steely determination, and it’s a fun environment to be in. There’s still a looseness and positive energy with not taking ourselves too seriously, but taking the work seriously.”

In his final year on the team, Finlayson plans to make the most out of his last Pac-12 championships.

“I’m excited just to have another shot at racing Washington,” Finlayson said. “It’s really exciting, and I think the team is in a good space at the moment. We just have to go and execute on Sunday. I’m really going to try to make the most of it and soak in the atmosphere and not take the opportunity for granted.”

Both the men and women will race this Sunday at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center. This marks the final regatta before the women travel to Florida for the NCAA championships and the men travel to New Jersey for the IRA National Championships in two weeks.

“The Pac-12s is a significant step in the season and it’s going to give us a really good idea of how we stand for a shot at winning the National championships and taking home that title,” Finlayson said.


Conner Parker covers rowing. Contact him at [email protected]