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Golden Medals: Cal sends women’s team and two male runners to NCAA XC championship

MPSF Tournament is this weekend as Cal Men’s Water Polo looks to win the NCAA automatic bid.

Bethan Knights and Brie Oakley will look to lead the Golden Bears at the NCAA Cross Country Championship this Saturday from Louisville, KY
Cal XC/Track and Field Twitter

Cal Cross Country at NCAA Championship

As the fall sports wind down, two more Cal teams will end their season at the NCAA championship this Saturday - the men’s and women’s Cal cross country teams.

For the first time in six years, the Cal women has qualified for the NCAA championships as a team. With the super freshman Brie Oakley - Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, joining forces with veteran senior Bethan Knights, Golden Bears have two strong contenders at the top. The dynamic duo finished 10th and 11th at the NCAA West Regional to lead the Bears. As a team, the Cal Bears are ranked 23rd in the country after posting the 4th best regional finish in program history by placing 5th at the NCAA West Regional.

Oakley had the fastest time amongst all freshman in the country.

For the men, two seniors have qualified as individuals as Trent Brendel and Garrett Corcoran both finished in the top 15 (13th and 15th, respectively) at the NCAA Regional. Bears had qualified for the NCAA as a team last year but does miss losing Robert Brandt via a transfer to UCLA.

Both seniors Brendel and Knights will be racing in their 3rd NCAA Championships. Knights placed 25th in 2014 and 89th in 2016. A total of 9 Golden Bears (7 women and 2 men) marks the largest contingent of Cal Cross Country Bears at the NCAA.

The action will take place on Saturday from Tom Sawyer Golf Course in Louisville, Kentucky. The women's 6000m is scheduled to start at 7:45 AM PT, followed by the men's 10,000m at 8:45 AM PT. The paid subscription only FloTrack will have the action live.

Cal Men’s Water Polo at MPSF Championship

Only 3 of the 5 MPSF teams (but nominally only the 4 teams of Cal, Stanford, UCLA, and USC, sorry Penn State Behrend) can make the NCAA tournament next weekend, hosted by USC. While it had looked that the Bears should have some margin for error at this weekend’s MPSF Championship, hosted by Stanford, the surprising Big Splash loss last Thursday (Bears were edged 11-10) has added extra importance to this weekend’s competition.

The 2nd seed Bears (18-2) will play the 3rd seed UCLA (18-3) first on Friday at 4:30 pm PT. A win in the semifinal and the Golden Bears should be a lock for the NCAA. A loss would mean a must win match in the 3rd place match. A top two seed in the NCAA next week would mean no need to play a play-in game. Of course, the Bears got in to the NCAA as the 2nd at-large bid (aka the 3rd team from the MPSF) but still ran the table with 3 wins to win program’s 17th NCAA national championship.

A quick reminder of how fast things can change as former No.1 USC (who held that spot for about half of the season) is now ranked 4th after losing to Cal and UCLA (in sudden death OT). If the NCAA starts today, host USC (22-3) would not be a participant. Conversely, Stanford (18-3) jumped from No.4 for the first half of the season to No.1 due to their Big Splash win.

After missing the past two matches due to an illness, Luca Cupido will hopefully be back for the Bears for the final two weekends of his great Cal career. Bears have split two matches with UCLA this year: an 8-9 loss at the MPSF Tournament semifinal and a 12-9 road win in MPSF regular season play.

The Sunday MPSF Championship final at 1 pm PT will be streamed live on

Cal Volleyball still has slim chance to make the NCAA tournament

Cal Bears (13-14, 4-12 in Pac-12) would need to go 3-1 in the final 4 matches of the season, all from Haas Pavilion, to finish with a winning record and make the NCAA tournament. To get to the postseason, the Bears would need to beat ranked visitors in No.9 USC, No.24 UCLA, No.21 Colorado, and No.7 Stanford. It is not impossible (especially with all of these teams having several losses on the year), but it will be very hard.

Bears are coming off 4 straight losses where they can not win even one set (although they did come close a few times). An injury has forced outside hitter Christina Alftin from being out to playing just the backrow to out again. Bears also have not played Emma Smith, who earned the libero job for part of this season. Also haven’t play in awhile is former co-setter in Mackenzie Albrecht. Needless to say, injuries have made it even tougher for the Bears to maintain some of the early season promise of 2017.

USC visits at 6 pm PT tonight while UCLA will visit on Sunday at 2:30 pm PT. All of the remaining Cal Volleyball matches can be found on the Pac-12 Networks (or at least online in one of the regional channel).

Looking ahead, Bears have added two signees in Rachel Ahrens (50th ranked prospect in the country) and Darian Clark. Both are outside hitters with Ahrens expected to take over for the graduating Alftin as the six-rotation outside hitter.

Cal Ice Hockey wins Big Freeze for the 12th straight time

Finally, a shout out to the Cal Ice Hockey club team for dominating rival Stanford via a 9-1 results (credit to Stanford for just showing up?). Golden Bears have apparently dominated this rivalry for the past decade plus by winning their 12th straight last night.