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Cal Women’s Crew advances all 3 boats to Sunday Finals at NCAA Rowing Championship

Golden Bears will look to best the Washington Huskies for their 2nd straight (and program’s 4th) NCAA national title.

Golden Bears will be racing for a 2nd consecutive NCAA team championship on Sunday. (Andrew Villa/ISI Photos)

Cal Women’s Crew looks to repeat in the NCAA Championships

Sunday’s Races Video: NCAA

Schedule for Sunday’s Finals:

7:12 am PT – 1V4 Grand Final

7:36 am PT – 2V8 Grand Final

8:00 am PT – 1V8 Grand Final

9:00 am PT – Awards Presentation

Stats for the entire weekend: LINK

From Mercer Lake in New Jersey (West Windsor near Princeton), California Golden Bears will look to repeat as NCAA Champions this weekend. In a location flip from last year, the Cal women’s will be rowing at the site of Cal men’s triumph as IRA national champs. Coming up next week from Lake Natoma in Sacramento, Cal men will look to win at the site of Cal women’s NCAA victory last year.

The NCAA race consists of three events - Varsity 4, 2nd Varsity 8, and Varsity 8. The team championship will be crowned to the school with the top cumulative points across the three events (tie-breaker to the team that place higher in the Varsity 8 race). Team score points based on descending order from their finish in the finals on Sundays. Varsity 8 and 2nd Varsity 8 races weigh 3 and 2 times that of the Varsity 4 results. In other words, even if Cal places 2nd behind Washington in both V4 and 2V8, a V8 win over Washington would still give the Golden Bears a repeat championship.

Cal Women’s Crew are seeking their 4th NCAA Championship (and 5th team championship in program history when also counting the 1980 National Women’s Rowing Association title). Golden Bears have won it all in 2005, 2006, as well as 2016 (check out my CGB recap of that event). Cal graduated last year’s (and 2x) Pac-12 rower of the year in Kendall Chase, but returned plenty of talent nonetheless to be one of the favorites this weekend.

Cal is ranked 2nd in all three races behind the Washington Huskies. Golden Bears Varsity 8 defeated Washington up in Seattle but Washington swept all three races at the Pac-12 Championship from Lake Natoma two weeks ago. The pivotal “rubber” racing weekend between the two West Coast powers should decide the NCAA title this weekend.

Golden Bears have accomplished their Friday and Saturday missions for advancing all 3 boats to the Championship Finals on Sunday. Both the 2nd Varsity 8 and the Varsity 4 boats have won both of their Friday and Saturday races.

The Varsity 4 boat for this weekend’s NCAA Championship consists of

In the Sunday Grand Final, Cal Varsity 4 will race against Washington, Texas, Ohio State, Michigan, and Princeton.

The 2nd Varsity 8 boat for this weekend’s NCAA Championship consists of

In the Sunday Grand Final, Cal 2nd Varsity 8 will race against Washington, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio State, and Brown.

The path to the final was not so smooth for the Cal Varsity 8 boat, who were undefeated on the season until losing to the Washington Huskies at the Pac-12 Championships. Cal Varsity 8 boat finished behind Michigan on Friday’s prelim - though the loss was probably more from the Bears trying to not max out at the beginning of the race. Bears had a better split at the last quarter but that was still not enough.

The Friday 2nd place meant that the Bears are in a very tough semifinal on Saturday with top seed Washington along with last year’s V8 winner in Ohio State and a very strong Texas team (coached by former Cal Women’s Crew head coach Dave O’Neill).

The Cal V8 lineup looks slightly different from early on the season - but it’s certainly optimized to deal with injuries and rowers’ performances. For reference, here is the lineup from the Big Row. Last year’s Pac-12 Newcomer of the year Wesselmann has moved up from 2V8 to V8.

In the Sunday Grand Final, Cal Varsity 8 will race against Washington, Yale, Stanford, Michigan, and Texas.

Nonetheless, don’t be surprised if the Golden Bears look like a completely different crew on the likely winners take all final race on Sunday.