Following a nearly two-week hiatus since their last race, the Bears will be making the journey north to race against the Washington Huskies in the second-to-last dual race of the season.
The race against Washington is always a critical race for the blue and gold, as Washington has a legacy of success and has the ability to give the Bears real trouble.
The Huskies are currently ranked No. 3 in the nation, with the Bears perch above them at No. 1. Cal has accumulated a total of 300 points, while Washington holds 269.
Cal will have to fiercely compete, especially in its lower boats. When the Bears raced against Oregon State, their 3V8+ crew won with a time of 5:59.17, while the Huskies 3V8+ won their race against the Beavers with a quicker 5:42.09.
A new course will lead to different times, but nevertheless, the Bears will need to be mindful of the stiff competition going into this weekend. Cal has had a stellar season thus far, sweeping every race it has competed in.
The races will be structured as dual races, alternating between the men’s and women’s teams. The freshmen V8+ will begin the races Saturday morning, and on the men’s side, the races will follow in the order of 4V8+, 3V8+, 2V8+ and V8+.
“It’s a big weekend for us for sure. I think our crews are developing well through the early spring season and this is our first big test as it is every year,” said head coach Scott Frandsen. “(I’m) looking forward to having the crews lining up against Washington, and see where we are at.”
Following the races this weekend, the Bears will only have three events left: Stanford, the Pac-12 championships and the IRA national championships. The Washington race is one to help build the team towards championship events and the end of the season.
While preparing for the duals, Cal continued to rotate its lineups to make improvements all across the team. The Bears are looking to keep the same V8+ lineup as their last time out and make minor changes throughout the lower boats.
“Mainly we have been confirming or doing the last lineup switches and trying to figure out what our lineup will be,” Frandsen said. “Figuring out lineups all the way down through the team has taken a lot of racing and a lot of work and it is definitely still a work in progress. All crews are in a good spot and excited to go race.”
The women’s crew team will be heading into their next set of dual races this weekend against Washington. Last weekend, the Bears raced against Stanford, and they ultimately lost the Big Row but still managed to shave seconds off of their times.
Cal only won one race of the weekend, the 4V8+, coming in at 6:46.01 in front of Stanford. Even with the losses, the Bears did improve from their previous set of races at the San Diego Crew Classic, where they lost to Stanford as well.
In San Diego, Stanford beat the Cal V8+ crew by 12 seconds, but only had a nine-second lead at the Big Row.
Both teams shaved off time from their previous sets of races, with the Bear’s now completing their V8+ races at 6:30.47 after setting a previous time of 6:43.506.
At the Big Row, Cal and Stanford both honored former coxswain Jill Costello. The Bears wore blue and teal suits that sported the name “Team Jill,” and the Cardinal wore shirts with their logo colored in teal.
The improvement from its previous races will encourage Cal, and with the Washington dual races approaching this weekend, shaven down times could not have come any sooner.
Varying on the crews this weekend, the Bears may have a chance to beat the Huskies in their V4+ crew.
In the NCAA Region 5 rankings, the Huskies currently outrank Cal in all categories except V4+, in which the Bears are third and Washington is fourth. Overall, Washington is ranked second for the region and Cal sits at third.
These sets of dual races will be important for Cal in building up its momentum as the season comes to a close, and it only has one more set of races following this weekend before the Pac-12 and NCAA championships.