Our final semifinal matchup of the weekend comes out of the Pappy Waldorf Region and features one of the best QB's to come through Cal matched up with one of the best swimmers. Mike Pawlawski narrowly defeated teammate Jerrot Willard to advance while Caitlin Leverenz upset Shareef Abdur-Rahim to get here. We'll take a closer look at both of them and then you can cast your vote to decide who moves on. You can take a look at the whole bracket here and voting will end Friday at noon. GO BEARS!
Cal fans from the early 90's remember him and the team he led quite fondly, perhaps in the same way the others remember Rodgers and 2004. Pawlawski was Cal's starting quarterback in 1990 and 1991. The 1991 team went 10-2 and won the Florida Citrus Bowl against ACC champion Clemson-Cal's first appearance in a New Year's Day Bowl since the 1959 Rose Bowl game. Pawlawski had an outstanding 1991 season, winning co-Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year honors with Washington WR Mario Bailey. And Pawlawski's 1990 team went 7-4-1 with a win in the Copper Bowl (nka the Insight Bowl), which was Cal's first bowl appearance since the 1979 Garden State Bowl. LeonPowe and California Pete offer their thoughts on Pawlawski and the 1991 team he quarterbacked-
LeonPowe: Quarterback for the 1991 Citrus Bowl Championship teams. Coming out of high school he had no arm strength, no accuracy and was rated by one recruiting service as "the worst recruit in the Pac-10" Damned if he didn't will and win his way to becoming the Pac-10 offensive player of the year in 1991. And this was with a UW team that won the National Championship. I really dislike attributing stuff like "intangibles" and "leadership" - because good players usually prove themselves in some measurable way. Mike really didn't - he had okay stats and won a lot. But it was the little things. Like when he scored on a keeper and knocked out the opposing linebacker. Like when he played special teams to get on the field. Like when he took an offense full of talent (Russ, Brian Treggs, Mike Caldwell, Greg Zomalt, Lindsay Chapman) and molded them in his image - they became a cocky, loud-mouthed, trashtalking offense that WON. Back-to-back Bowl Games (huge for Cal at the time). In my freshman year after Pawlawski had graduated a lot of fans and students said (not jokingly either) that they should bring Pawlawski back . . .to coach the linebackers.
California Pete: I think the 1991 team would have a great chance against the 2004 team, although the 91ers' penchant for personal fouls probably would do them in. Both teams were Rose Bowl worthy . . . but both unfortunately shared the conference with two of the all-time greats: UW 1991 and USC 2004.
Let’s start with the obvious achievement: Caitlin Leverenz is an Olympic medalist already, winning a bronze in the 200m Individual Medley. Cal athletes win plenty of medals, but it’s still pretty rare to win one when you’re still enrolled as a student. And to get a medal in an event that is essentially measuring how well-rounded you are as a swimmer? Even cooler!
But in a way, her collegiate accomplishments seem somehow more impressive. At the 2011 NCAA championships she swam in five events and placed 5th, 4th, 3rd, 1st (relay) and 1st(relay). In 2012, she again swam in five events (3 individual, 2 relays), and this time she recorded four wins and one 2nd place finish . . . and that 2nd place finish was an American record. And Cal won national titles both years.
2013 wasn’t quite as illustrious as 2012, but Leverenz again competed in five events and finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd and 6th. 15 NCAA championship races, and finishing 6th or higher every time. That’s a level of versatility and endurance rarely seen, and I have no doubt the Bears will miss her next year.
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