Boiling point: Women’s crew heads to sunny Florida for NCAA championships

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Karen Chow/Senior Staff

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Ten. This number, 10, has become a trademark of sorts for the Bears this season. The program is currently ranked 10th in the nation, and was selected as the No. 10 seed for the NCAA championships.

The blue and gold are heading down south to Nathan Benderson Park, in Sarasota, Florida, to compete at the regatta this approaching weekend. The boats are looking to face moderate winds, which should not exceed 14mph.

Coming off of a third-place finish at the Pac-12 championships last weekend, the Bears will be joined by both the Washington and Stanford women’s crew teams in Florida. The Huskies had an impressive second-place finish, but the Cardinal, which placed first, may be the team to keep an eye out for.

The Bears have had a long and dazzling history throughout several NCAA championships. Not only will this be the program’s 23rd appearance, it will also be an opportunity for Cal to tie Washington for second in the number of titles won since the inaugural regatta in 1997.

Winning the championship in 2005, 2006, 2016 and 2018, the Bears are just one title away from matching the Huskies’ five titles. If Cal can achieve this, it will mark the beginning of a new record for the coming generations of women’s Bear crews to topple.

However, this feat will not be an easy task. With strong performances from not only Washington and Stanford, Cal has an even more tasking hurdle to overcome if it wants a shot at bringing home the championship title for the first time in four years: Texas.

As the current reigning champions, the Longhorns have by no means lost their spark — the team has maintained a No. 1 ranking for the entirety of the 2022 season. To pile onto the bleak future for non-Texas NCAA participants, the Longhorns have remained undefeated for the past two years.

The Bears’ varsity eights will compete in the second heat, alongside No. 5 Princeton, No. 8 Michigan, No. 14 Duke and Gonzaga. The second varsity eights are also scheduled in the second heat against Gonzaga, Yale, Ohio State and Rutgers. Finally, the varsity four boat will go head-to-head in the third heat with Boston, Princeton, Brown, Oregon State and Jacksonville.

Yet in spite of all these odds, Cal can rely on some of its strong seniors. After being named to the Pac-12 All-Conference team this past weekend, fifth-year senior Juliane Faralisch earned her first All-Conference honors. Before returning to the Bears this year, Faralisch spent a year off training to make it onto the German Olympic team. To top things off, Faralisch was a part of the winning varsity eight boat in 2018 — the year Cal last won the NCAA title.

This weekend will be one last opportunity for the Bears to showcase the efforts they have worked to build up this season. Despite the strong and decorated competition it will face this weekend, Cal still has a chance to rise as the underdog and rewrite the trajectory of women’s rowing history.

Madison Lee covers men’s and women’s crew. Contact her at [email protected].