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Golden Medals: Strong season debuts for Cal Crew; Men’s Tennis hosts UCLA/USC

Cal Men’s Gymnastics host MPSF Championships on Saturday. Cal Tennis updates.

Cal women’s crew Twitter

California Men’s Crew dominates San Diego Crew Classic plus Q&A with Associate Head Coach Scott Frandsen

ROW ON YOU BEARS! Defending IRA champ, California Golden Bears started the season in dominant (even if fully expected) fashion by winning all 5 events at the San Diego Crew Classic last weekend: Third Varsity 8, Freshman 8, Second Varsity 8, and Varsity 8 (5:35.50 in a course record to beat Yale and Stanford) all won their respective events with phenomenal time (by 5+ seconds in the most competitive races). In the final Open event, Freshman 8 just edged Third Varsity 8 for that win.

Before the event (but after my crew preview has been written), I heard back from Calympian Scott Frandsen, who is also the associate head coach on the team. He answered several of my questions in my bid to understand crew/rowing better.

Ruey Yen: Can you tell me the roster for the Varsity 8 boat? A big change may be the graduation of the coxswain from the IRA champion. How much time does it take to get a new coxswain to be familiar with his/her rowers? What can you tell me about each of the member on the V8 boat? Their strength vs. boat positions.

Frandsen - The coxswain is an integral part of the boat and having Julian and Erin graduate last year definitely left some big shoes to fill. We've been working with our young coxswains and giving them the opportunity to step up in the bigger roles and I think it has been going well. The Varsity lineup for this weekend is John Amorosana, Natan WS, Martin Mackovic, Maarten Hurkmans, Joachim Sutton, Christoph Seifriedsberger, Jack Gosden-Kaye, Kyle Flagg, Alex Wallis.

Too much to write here [about each member of the Varsity 8 boat]. We have a great, young group so I could go on for pages.

Ruey Yen: Given the tremendous amount of intrasquad competitions, at what point is this roster set -- fall, winter, spring, subject to change up until the last weekend? How often (if at all) does a rower change boat positions within a boat?

Frandsen - The lineups will shift around all the way through the week leading up to the IRA!

Ruey Yen: New to roster this year is a "position" that tells me whether a rower is on the "port" or "starboard" side. At what point in a rower's career does one choose a sweeping side? How much of a balancing act is it to pair up guys with similar rowing strength?

Frandsen - A rower will be (fairly randomly) assigned to a side early in his career but can change sides a few times throughout his career. Some stay on the same side for their whole career and some flip back and forth. If we feel that we are lopsided on one side we can switch a rower to the other side to equal out the level of competition on each side.

Ruey Yen: For an outsider, the sculling vs. sweeping motions look very different. How much does one practice one vs. the other? For example, Natan competed in the single scull in the Rio Olympics.

Frandsen - It is essentially the same motion. The training and strength and endurance is the same so a skilled rower like Natan can switch between a single and an eight pretty easily.

Ruey Yen: Since I just went to Indianapolis and saw both the men's and women's NCAA swimming championships recently, is "taper" a thing for rowing as well? From my physics background it sounds weird to essentially think how each measurement (aka race) would result in a faster time. Obviously there are more outside variables on the river/lake than in a swimming pool, but how much time drop do you expect between the beginning of the spring season and two months later at the IRA championship?

Frandsen - We taper slightly for these early races but have our eyes (and training regime) set on the bigger races at the end of our season. These guys are young and able to recover very quickly from large amounts of training so we don't need to taper very much.

Ruey Yen: Other than a long tradition of not being governed by the NCAA, the "IRA national champion" title being awarded to the school that wins the V8+ race rather than the team point appears to the main point of contention. Cal won both last year. Which championship is "more important" to you? to the guys on the team that is not on the V8 boat?

Frandsen - Whoever wins the Varsity 8+ has always been the National Champion with Men's Rowing. But the team title is important and a great indication of depth on the squad and we were thrilled to win it last year.

Thank you to Scott Frandsen for taking the time to answer my questions. I got to chat with him briefly in real life at the Princeton Chase last fall when he was there with the Freshman 8 boat (who won that event). I will try to maybe get a couple more exchanges before and after the IRA Championships this year.

Golden Bears will next race at the Stanford Invitational (not the Big Row) next weekend (April 14th-15th).

California Women’s Crew conquer challenges at Pac-12 Challenges

The Varsity 8 boat of No.1 Cal Women’s Crew bested both No.2 Ohio State and No.3 Michigan last weekend in separate head to head races. Bears also won at least one of 2nd Varsity 8 or Varsity 4 (the other two NCAA races) race against the B1G women’s crew powerhouses. Since the NCAA Championships will be a composite of the team score from the three races (with the most weight for the Varsity 8 result), these results bode well for the Bears’ desire to repeat as NCAA Champions. Bears also swept No.7 Virginia in all 3 races.

Bears made minor changes to the lineups in between the different races.

Bears 2nd Varsity 4 and 3rd Varsity 8 also raced on the weekend against Washington and Stanford with mostly favorable results.

Saturday - Morning Session:

Women's Varsity 8+:

1. California 6:17.9; 2. Virginia 6:29.9

Women's Second Varsity 8+:

1. California 6:29.9; 2. Virginia 6:32.6

Women's Varsity 4+: 1. California 7:15.85; 2. Virginia 7:34.33

Women's Second Varsity 4+: 1. Washington 7:16.7; 2. California 7:22.1

Women's Third Varsity 8+: 1. California 6:42.1; 2. Stanford 7:09.1

Saturday - Afternoon Session:

Women's Varsity 8+: 1. California 6:15.19; 2. Ohio State 6:18.99

Women's Second Varsity 8+: 1. Ohio State 6:25.55; 2. California 6:28.90

Women's Varsity 4+: 1. California 7:01.81; 2. Ohio State 7:05.47

Women's Third Varsity 4+: 1. California 7:18.00; 2. Stanford 7:38.02

Sunday - Morning Session:

Women's Varsity 8+: 1. California 6:20.53; 2. Michigan 6:28.65

Women's Second Varsity 8+: 1. Michigan 6:22.81; 2. California 6:26.62

Women's Varsity 4+: 1. California 7:05.82; 2. Michigan 7:17.25

Women's Second Varsity 4+: 1. California 7:11.67; 2. Washington 7:13.92

Women's Third Varsity 4+: 1. California 7:23.28; 2. Stanford 7:25.57

Cal Men’s Gymnastics hosts MPSF Championships on Saturday

Some of the best gymnasts in the country will compete at Haas on Saturday...some of them will sport the Blue and Gold of California.

The 11th ranked Golden Bears will go up against the Top ranked Oklahoma, 2nd ranked Stanford, and 10th ranked Air Force. This is a good chance for the Cal community to see the best of NCAA men’s gymnastics in action. Let’s hope that the home gym advantage will push the Bears to an upset championship.

Bears this year got an assistant coach in Japanese Gymnastics great Koji Uematsu. One catch, Koji doesn’t really speak English.

It’s a fun video, even if senior Sano who is forced to be the translator basically said that communication was occasionally a problem.

Cal Women’s Tennis still controls Pac-12 destiny

With just one conference loss and the meet against undefeated Stanford still upcoming (regular season finale), Golden Bears (12-3, 5-1 in Pac-12) have a good shot at the Pac-12 title.

Pac-12 play started on March 10th for the Bears with a trip down to LA. Since earning that tough split (4-3 over USC, 3-4 to UCLA), the Bears understandably rolled with wins over Arizona (6-1), Arizona State (7-0), and Colorado (6-1). Bears did encounter a bit of problem at Utah.

After taking the doubles point, Bears got wins from the top of the line-up of No.1 Maegan Manasse and No.2 Karla Popovic. After dropping results in courts 3 through 5 (in a lineup without grad transfer Maya Jansen), Bears needed senior Stephanie Lin to win in court 6 for the clinch and keep the Bears’ Pac-12 hope alive (Stanford has no loss in conference play while everyone else has 2 or more losses). By the way, Jansen did play in the midweek 7-0 win over Sacramento State.

Bears will travel up to Eugene to take on Oregon on Saturday (OSU does not have women’s tennis). The regular season will end with the Washington schools visiting Berkeley next weekend, follow by the likely Pac-12 deciding meet with Stanford visiting on April 22nd.

Cal Men’s Tennis hosts UCLA today after easy Pac-12 opening weekend

On Pac-12 Networks at 1:30 PM PT, No.11/12 Cal Men’s Tennis (15-5, 2-0 in Pac-12) will play host to No.9/10 UCLA Bruins (13-4, 2-0 in Pac-12). This meet has strong Pac-12 regular season title implications. Equally important is the meet against No.5/6 USC (19-3, 2-0 in Pac-12) tomorrow at 1 pm PT which is not televised.

Coming off an year when they made the NCAA semifinal, this year’s Golden Bears have the potential to go all the way. Midseason hiccups gave the Bears a few more losses than they would like (particularly the non-conference Big Slam to Stanford) but they have since bounced back with 5 straight wins.

A home sweep over the LA schools will be huge for both the Bears’ Pac-12 chances and be a huge confidence boost going to the last quarter of the season.