With the calendar turning to the month of May, it is the time to shine for Cal Athletics. Cal won a total of 4 national titles in May/June last year - rugby in 15s (Varsity Cup), 7s (Collegiate Rugby Championship), men’s crew (IRA), and women’s crew (NCAA). Golden Bears have strong chances to repeat as team national champs (and adding to program’s 95 team national championships in history) in all 4 of these competitions.
Check back here tomorrow for my full preview (and gamethread) for Cal Rugby’s Varsity Cup Final match (noon PT from Santa Clara University; also on NBC Sports Network). Despite plenty of youth on the roster, the California Golden Bears are the heavy favorites to repeat as the Rugby 15s national champions; but then again, the Bears won the 2016 title as an underdog (over BYU) - Arkansas State Red Wolves should not be overlooked.
Both men’s and women’s crew sweep all Big Row races
How sweep it is!
A week after going up to Seattle to claim both trophies (Schoch Cup for the men, Simpson Cup for the women - as seen in the main picture of this post), the Golden Bears concluded their regular season with dominating wins at the Big Row over rival Stanford. In the process, the Golden Bears won the Schwabacher Cup (men) and the Lambert Cup (women) while celebrating the legacy of former Cal coxswain, Jill Costello, who lost her life to lung cancer.
It is not quite at the rugby level, but a Cal men victory over Stanford in crew is always a good bet (CGB and your humble writer is not recommending betting on sports, particularly Cal sports). Bears have a 65-19 all-time lead in this contest.
Bears top the Cardinal for the 4th consecutive season, taking a 65-19 advantage all-time in the Big Row!— California Crew (@CaliforniaCrew) April 29, 2017
Cal - 5:41.63
Stanford - 5:48.85 pic.twitter.com/mLE8qLrDu2
The Cal men also won the Freshman 8 and the 2V8 races by very impressive margins (14 seconds for the freshmen, 23 seconds for the JV).
On the women’s side, the Cal Varsity 8 stayed perfect on the year with another victory. Golden Bears have a 28-13 all-time lead on Stanford. Bears also avenge for the upset loss to Stanford last year.
Bears swept all 4 races (note that 3V8 is not an event at the NCAA championship).
Women's 1V4+: 1. California 7:13.90; 2. Stanford 7:21.46
Women's 2V8+: 1. California 6:26.60; 2. Stanford 6:29.70
Women's 3V8+: 1. California 6:45. 47; 2. Stanford 7:00.5
Women's 1V8+: 1. California 6:16.88; 2. Stanford 6:19.97
Both the men and the women will stop racing this weekend to take care of their finals. They will next be in action at the Pac-12 Championships on May 14th (next weekend) from Lake Natoma (in Sacramento County). The NCAA (for the women) and the IRA (for the men) will then follow where both Cal crew are the favorites to repeat, with the Washington Huskies as the top challenger in both competitions.
ROW ON YOU BEARS!
Cal Women’s Golf in NCAA Albuquerque Regional Play (play starts on Monday, May 8th)
Returning to another NCAA Regional (a streak that dates back to 2000) are the Cal Women’s Golf team. They will play in the Albuquerque Regional (one of 4 NCAA Regionals) for the chance to advance to the NCAA Championships (in Illinois this year) for the 3rd time in 4 years. Golden Bears, a 7 seed in this regional, are looking for a top 6 finish in the Regional field of 18 teams to continue the season.
Assuming the same lineup as the Pac-12 Championship, the Golden Bears will count on senior Lucia Gutierrez, junior Marthe Wold, sophomore Marianne Li, freshman Maria Herraez, and freshman Jiyoon Jang (sophomore Amina Wolf has also been in plenty of the Cal lineup this season). Last year, the Bears finished 7th in the Regional, but Marianne Li was able to advance to the NCAA Championships as an individual (top 3 individual not on the advancing team).
Bears opened the 2016-17 season at the same golf course (Championship Golf Course at University of New Mexico) where Jang and Wolf had a particularly great outings. Bears were disappointed by their Pac-12 Championship outing when they finished 10th out of 11 teams, but are glad for the chance to rebound.
HOLE ON YOU BEARS!
Cal Women’s Water Polo opens NCAA tourney play against UC Irvine
With a huge 9-7 victory over Arizona State Sun Devils in the 1st round of the MPSF tournament last week, the Golden Bears secured an at-large spot in the 2017 NCAA Championship. This marks only the 5th time in program history that the Bears have made it to the NCAA championship. The Women’s Water Polo field has always been larger than that for the Men’s, the recently expanded men’s tournament now allow two at-large bids (allowing the top 3 teams to make the field where the Golden Bears won it all as the 3rd seed) while the women’s field allows the top 4 teams to make the field with three at-large bids. The Cal Women just get in the field as that 4th team from the always tough MPSF conference (along side UCLA, Stanford, and USC).
I am hoping to write a few Cal Women’s Water Polo posts next weekend, when Cal Women’s Water Polo will be gunning for the program’s first NCAA national title (the lone Cal Aquatics program without a national championship) in the first year of new head coach Coralie Simmons. The Golden Bears (15-9) will start play next Friday (May 12th) at 10:45 AM PT against UC Irvine Anteaters (23-6), Big West conference champs, from Indianapolis (the same site of the NCAA swimming and diving championships earlier this year); (somewhat surprisingly, but it really doesn’t matter) UCI are the 4th seed while the Bears are the unranked 5th seed.
Should the Bears get past the Anteaters (1st matchup of the season between these two teams), they will likely face top overall seed UCLA. Bears pushed UCLA to the limit in a tight 8-9 loss in the MPSF semifinal. The potential championship match on Sunday would likely be against the winner of USC/Stanford.
Despite some injury issues (mainly to Calympian Roser Tarrago), the play by the Bears at the MPSF tournament last week was very encouraging. Last December, the Cal men won the NCAA championship as the last at-large bid (they did have the home pool advantage that shouldn’t be discounted). The Cal women will look to match that feat next weekend.
Both Men’s and Women’s Tennis will host 1st and 2nd round of NCAA Tennis tournament next weekend
To the surprise of no one, both Cal women’s and men’s tennis made the field of 64 teams for the NCAA championship. With both teams ranked in the top 16, they will both (again) host the first and second round from Hellman Tennis Complex next weekend.
The Cal women earned the 13th overall seed.
The Bears will open against San Jose State in the first round. The winner will then play the winner of LSU/Tulsa for the right to advance to Athens, Georgia for the final 16.
Today's #OracleITARankings have Cal 13th; Karla 10th, Maegan 34th, Denise 123rd in singles; Maegan/Maya 34th, Karla/Olivia 55th in doubles— Cal Women's Tennis (@CalWomensTennis) May 4, 2017
For the Cal men, they are the 8th overall seed.
Golden Bears will open against Tennessee Tech in the first round. The winner will play the winner of Northwestern/Utah State in the second round for the right to advance to Athens, Georgia.
The latest ranking for the Cal men are below:
Also in the #OracleITARankings Flo/Fil are ranked 5th & Andre/Billy are 74th in dbls; in sgls Flo is 12th, Andre is 61st & Billy is 81st— Cal Men's Tennis (@CalMensTennis) May 4, 2017
Both the Cal women and the Cal men made it to the NCAA Final Four last year. Both of them are more than capable of making it back there, if not to go all the way and win the national championships.