After placing third at the Pac-12 championships, the Bears are set to compete for the NCAA championships in Camden, New Jersey.
With heats starting Friday morning, the races will serve as qualifiers for Saturday’s semifinals and grand finals Sunday.
Out of the Pac-12, Stanford secured the conference’s lone automatic selection, leaving the NCAA Division I Women’s Rowing Committee to select Cal with an at-large selection. Going into the tournament, the blue and gold are seeded 11th for the V8+ crew, seventh for 2V8+ and eighth for V4+.
Ahead of the trip to New Jersey, Cal head coach Al Acosta looked to make adjustments to all of the lineups from Pac-12s and has since arranged the boats so many rowers are in different seats than before.
“The boats have been in their lineups for about a week, which is good — probably the longest continual run all year for established lineups,” Acosta said. “Generally the kids feel better when they row with each other for a little bit longer, but (we are) feeling good.”
One of the most anticipated races for fans will be the V4+ as last season the Bears were seeded 11th for V4+ and finished first. With a higher seeding this season, at eighth, fans are hopeful to see a well-executed race that exceeds expectations once again.
Based on their Pac-12 performance, which was very similar to their performance last season, the Bears seem to be in a similar position at NCAAs this year as the year before. And, if history is any indication, the blue and gold should be expected to at least place in the top 10, as they have for the past 23 years.
With some of the nation’s best teams lining up against Cal this weekend, Acosta’s goal for the Bears is simple: Go faster than they have all season.
“Our expectations are just to go faster than we did at Pac-12s and I think all of the boats are capable of doing that,” Acosta said. “Who knows, there are crews here that we haven’t raced and it is difficult to predict finish orders right now.”
It may be true that finish orders are hard to predict at the moment. But, as the weekend progresses, the Bears will gain a better idea of the competition in Camden and just what is necessary to sit high on the final rankings come the end of Sunday.
Cal starts its tournament play in the qualifying V8+ heat Friday at 6:30 a.m. PST followed by the 2V8+ and V4+ heats at 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., respectively.