Bears Finish Second At IRA National Championship
WEST WINDSOR, N.J. – The Cal men's rowing team captured the silver medal in the Varsity Challenge Cup and the overall team standings at the 2021 IRA National Championship on Mercer Lake on Sunday.
The Bears' 344 overall points placed them second behind national champion Washington, which won every final and finished with 360 total points. The Bears also placed second in the third varsity eight and varsity four while taking the bronze in the second varsity eight.
Cal kept within striking distance of the Huskies throughout the Varsity Challenge Cup (varsity eight Grand Final) but ultimately couldn't overtake them. Washington finished in a time of 5:59.707 while the Bears were right behind at 6:02.953.
It marked the Bears' best finish in the Varsity Challenge Cup since winning the national championship in 2016.
Cal started Sunday's finals with a spirited race in the third varsity eight. Once again, the Bears pushed Washington to the limit before settling for second. Washington completed the course in 6:08.491 while Cal clocked in at 6:11.308.
The Bears went neck and neck with Dartmouth to decide second place in the second varsity eight, with the Big Green finally inching past Cal at the finish. Dartmouth had a mark of 6:24.915 while the Bears were at 6:25.998.
Cal had to hold off Boston University to claim the silver in the varsity four. The Bears were in command of the second spot for much of the race before the Terriers closed the gap during the final 200 meters. The Bears ultimately finished in 7:06.229 while Boston came in at 7:06.429.
The Bears' second-place finish in the Ten Eyck standings (overall points) was also their best since 2016. Cal has finished as champion or runner-up in four of the past six seasons.
Cal, which didn't train in the fall due to COVID-19, will return five oarsmen from its varsity eight this season – including Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year Frederik Breuer. The Bears also expect the return of a couple of key rowers who opted out for 2020-21.