Cal Sweeps Pac-10 Rowing Championships
May 17, 2009
By James Raia
GOLD RIVER, Calif. - California upset top-seeded Washington in the men's varsity eight grand final propelling the Golden Bears to the men's team title and beginning what minutes later would result in a team sweep Sunday at the Pacific-10 Rowing Championships.
Held under sweltering and near-windless conditions at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center at Lake Natoma, the regatta was split into morning qualifying and afternoon final sessions. Finals began at 1 p.m. with a temperature of 98 degrees and winds at 6 mph. The women's varsity grand eight final, the event's concluding race, began two hours later with a temperature of 103 degrees and wind of only 2 mph.
The hot weather conditions were equaled by hot rowing. The Bears' varsity eight men took a slight early lead over top-seeded Washington and Stanford, but Cal's advantage was never more than two seats. Stanford surged halfway through the 2,000 meters into second over Washington, with the Huskies fading in the final 500 meters.
The Bears won in 5:41.9, with Stanford second in 5:42.2 and Washington third in 5:44.1.
'Washington took a couple of seats (lead) at the beginning,' said Cal junior coxswain Zach Vlahos. 'But we just stuck to our game plan, stayed in our own boat and raced together the whole way down. You never know until the end.'
The women's grand final wasn't contested after No. 1-seed Stanford moved into an early lead in 12th and final grand final. The Cardinal women won in 6:18.6, followed by Stanford in 6:22.0 and Oregon State in 6:29.6.
The grand finals race also completed a final team standings oddity.
The Golden Bear men didn't win any other grand final, but California ended Washington's two-year reign to claim the men's team title with 67 points. Washington was second with 64 points and Stanford was third with 52 points.
California's women won two grand finals on the afternoon, but not the varsity eight, and claimed the women's team title for the second straight years with 70.5 points. Stanford was second with 67 points and Washington was third with 57 points.
Washington, which easily advanced all of its qualifying boats, won its first three races (men's novice eights, women's novice eights and men's varsity four) before the Huskies finished third in the women's varsity grand four final. Washington then won the men's second varsity eight final, with the race announcer several times remarking the Huskies would be rowing for a sweep.
California, seeded in lane 2, didn't allow it. The Bears capitalized on Washington's fast but anxious start in the men's varsity eight final.
'We were a little too excited at the beginning,' said Washington junior stroke Will Crothers. 'We just didn't row our own race the way we could have. We were the top seed coming in, but at this point with Cal and Stanford, it doesn't mean much. It's race by race.'
Stanford's women would have advanced to NCAA finals, May 29-31 in Cherry Hill, N.J. as the country's top-seed team, but the Cardinals' win gave the squad an automatic berth among 16 teams. The remaining teams advancing to the national championships will be announced Tuesday.
Washington, which won 12 straight Pac-10 women's titles ending in 2003, is likely to advance, as is California.
'We finished about where we are,' said Washington's women's coach Bob Ernst. 'It was a good regatta. Certainly Cal and Stanford deserved to be ranked No. 1 and No. 2. The rest of the field will be interesting to sort out. But I think our team belongs in the NCAAs. But we just don't have the power to go with Cal and Stanford right now.'
Final Team Standings
1. Cal - 67 points
2. Washington - 64
3. Stanford - 52
4. Oregon State - 38
5. UCLA - 28
6. Washington State - 26
7. USC - 16
8. Oregon - 2
1. Cal - 70.5 points
2. Stanford - 67
3. Washington - 57
4. Oregon State - 55
5. USC - 49.5
6. Washington State - 37.5
7. UCLA - 29
8. Oregon - 2
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