Cal Seeks National Rowing Title at IRA Regatta

June 3, 2008

BERKELEY - California and its fifth-ranked varsity eight will compete for the national championship in the 106th annual Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Regatta this Thursday through Saturday, June 5-7, on the Cooper River in Camden County, N.J. The Golden Bears have won 15 Varsity Challenge Cups, the trophy awarded to the varsity eight champion, winning their first in 1928 and their last in 2006.

Cal will face a strong field of 24 varsity eight contenders including the rest of the top 10-ranked boats: No. 1 and defending champion Washington, No. 2 Wisconsin, No. 3 Brown, No. 4 Princeton, No. 6 Yale, No. 7 Northeastern, No. 8 Stanford, No. 9 Columbia and No. 10 Navy. The Bears, seeded No. 4 in the varsity eight race, joins No. 5-seeded Princeton and No. 12-seeded Cornell in Heat D. The heats for the varsity eight are scheduled to start at 7:36 a.m. ET on Thursday.

The Bears will also compete in the second varsity eight, freshman/novice eight, varsity four, freshman four and open four races, though the winner of the varsity eight's Varsity Challenge Cup is considered the collegiate national champion. The Bears are also seeded No. 4 in the second varsity eight and freshman eight events.

Last year, Cal's varsity eight took fifth, while the Bears finished third in the team standings. Washington won the 2007 varsity eight crown and placed first in the team standings. Cal head coach Steve Gladstone last led his Bears to the Varsity Challenge Cup in 2006.

Scouting the Golden Bears
The following is a look at how Cal has fared so far this season:

Pac-10 Challenge - March 29-30 in Redwood Shores, Calif.
Cal opened the 2008 season with successful performances at the Pac-10 Challenge. The Cal varsity eight won all three of its races, including victories over Cornell, UC San Diego and Trinity College. Overall, the Bears won all eight of their races, including second varsity eight triumphs over Cornell and Trinity.

San Diego Crew Classic - April 5-6 in San Diego, Calif.
The Bears last competed in the San Diego Crew Classic, with the varsity eight taking fourth place (5:44.15) in the Copley Cup grand final. Cal took home a second-place finish (6:05.33) in the novice eight (Derek Guelker Memorial Cup) and placed third (5:56.58) in the junior varsity eight (Sharp Cabrillo Cup). In the open eight race (Joan Ward Memorial Trophy, the Cal B boat was second (6:11.53) and the Cal A boat was third (6:12.53).

Stanford Invitational - April 19 in Redwood Shores, Calif.
Cal, which competed only on the first day of the two-day regatta, lost its varsity eight (6:06.21-6:10.06) and second varsity eight (6:16.13-6:19.73) races to Wisconsin. The Badgers' varsity eight is ranked No. 6 in the nation. The Bears' third varsity eight also defeated the Santa Clara varsity eight (6:58.37-7:06.95.) at the Stanford Invitational.

Washington Dual - April 26 in Redwood Shores, Calif.
Cal's sixth-ranked varsity eight lost to top-ranked Washington, 5:42.11-5:48.71, to give the Huskies the Schoch Cup. Washington has won the last two Schoch Cups against Cal.

The Bears won the second varsity eight race with Washington, which won the freshman eight against Cal. The Bears rowed a time of 5:49.31 to the Huskies' 5:52.53 in the second varsity eight, while Washington won the freshman eight, 5:51.22-5:53.27.

Cal also competed against UC Davis on April 26 in Redwood Shores, with the Bears' third varsity eight beating the Aggies' varsity eight, 6:00.34-6:03.78, and the Cal second freshman eight beating Davis, 6:11.86-6:29.64.

Stanford Dual - May 3 in Redwood Shores, Calif.
Cal's sixth-ranked varsity eight lost by less than one second to ninth-ranked Stanford at the Big Row. The Bears' top boat lost, 5:42.52-5:43.39, as Stanford won the Schwabacher Cup for the first time since 1990. Cal had won the annual varsity eight race between the rivals 17 straight times before today. In the other May 3 races, Cal won the freshman eight and second varsity four against the Cardinal.

The Cal freshman eight prevailed, 5:51.91-5:26.21. The second varsity four race included three entrants, with the California 2 boat winning in 6:27.62. Next was the second-place California 1 boat (6:30.90) and third-place Stanford (7:56.78).

Pac-10 Rowing Championships - May 18 in Gold River, Calif.
Cal's No. 8-ranked varsity eight was edged by Washington in the men's final race of the day, and the Bears finished in second place overall to the Huskies at the Pac-10 Rowing Championships on a hot May 18 afternoon on Lake Natoma. Cal took second to Washington in all four races to compile 63 points to Washington's 72. Stanford was third (42). Washington, Cal and Stanford also placed 1-2-3 at Pac-10s in 2007.

In this year's regatta, the Bears also placed second to Washington in the second varsity eight, 6:00.9-6:03.7, freshman eight, 5:58.6-6:04.8, and varsity four, 6:47.3-6:52.6.

Gladstone in Second Decade as Cal Leader
Cal is coached by Steve Gladstone, who is in his 20th year overall at the helm of the Golden Bears' men's program. During the 2006 campaign Gladstone led his team to a national championship at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Regatta and a Pac-10 team championship sparked by victories in the varsity eight. In 2006 the Cal varsity eight came out on top, defeating Princeton by two seconds. With this win, Gladstone is tied with Charles 'Pop' Courtney for the most Varsity Challenge Cup Titles (IRA varsity eight national championships); Courtney won 11 titles while at Cornell between 1901and 1915.

A Look at Cal in the 2007 IRA Regatta
Third-ranked California's varsity eight placed fifth on June 2, 2007, in the grand final of the IRA Regatta on the Cooper River. Cal, the 2006 IRA national champion varsity eight, fell short of repeating as national champion. Top-ranked Washington won its 12th Varsity Challenge Cup, finishing in 5:33.165. The Bears' freshman four, varsity four+ and freshman eight won their respective national titles. The Cal freshman eight's gold-medal finish marked the ninth consecutive year the Bears have finished amongst the top three crews at the IRA Regatta.

The Cal varsity pair finished fifth in its grand final behind Temple, Wisconsin, Columbia and Yale. The Bears' open four lost to Washington, Princeton and Northeastern on its way to a fourth-place finish. In the second varsity eight race, Washington, Wisconsin and Cornell finished first, second and third respectively; Harvard, Cal and Brown rounded out the field.

After Washington in the varsity eight race, second-ranked Harvard and No. 8 Stanford tied for second place, posting times of 5:34.125 each. Brown fell less than a second behind Harvard and Stanford, finishing in fourth place with a time of 5:34.981. Cal and Princeton rounded out the field finishing with times of 5:40.126 and 5:43.419, respectively.

The Cal freshman four dominated its race, finishing six seconds ahead of Yale to claim the title. Boston University, Princeton, Oregon State and Harvard rounded out the field.

The Bears' varsity four+ won the grand final, finishing with an open-water lead over Temple. Trailing the Bears (6:20.622) were Temple (6:24.370), Brown (6:24.742) and Gonzaga (6:25.059). Hobart and UCLA finished in fifth and sixth places, respectively.

This season, Cal's freshman eight regained control of the national title and posted an undefeated season for the third time in school history, including in 2004 and 2005 when the Bears won consecutive IRA championships. The Cal freshman eight was unbeaten domestically in 2005, having lost only in the Temple Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta in England.

The 2007 Cal freshman eight finished with a 3.5-second lead over Brown (5:44.736) and Washington (5:44.392) to reclaim the IRA crown. Harvard, Princeton and Yale rounded out the field.

12 Bears Earn 2008 Pac-10 All-Academic Honors
Cal placed 12 Bears, including four members of the varsity eight, on the 2008 Pac-10 Men's Rowing All-Academic team, as announced on May 29 by Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen. Cal placed five Bears on the conference's academic first team and seven on the Pac-10's second team. To be eligible for selection to the Pac-10 academic team, a student-athlete must have a minimum 3.0 overall grade-point average, be either a starter or substitute of significant contribution, and be in his second academic year.

Sophomore Justin Hills (first team), senior Marko Knezevic (first team), junior Janis Fontein (second team) and senior Marko Marjanovic (second team) are the Cal varsity eight members who were honored by the conference. The following Bears also garnered conference academic accolades: First Team - Senior coxswain Courtney Wilkinson and juniors Geoff Roth and Axel Stelter. Second Team - Senior David Naughton and sophomores Sean Engel, Spencer Moscati, Jordan Sartor and Nikola Zunic.

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