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Golden Medals: Undefeated Cal Rugby hosts UBC, Men’s Golf dominates Wyoming Desert tournament for 3rd win

Women’ Gymnastics hosts an elite Utah squad on Sunday. Track and field competes at the MPSF championships. Beach Volleyball season opens.

Cal Rugby faces the first real test of the season when they host University of British Columbia Thunderbirds on Saturday
Cal Varsity Rugby Facebook page

Continuing how all the televised/streamed rivalry games/matches do get their own individual post, be on the look out tomorrow morning for a post about the young but talented Cal Men’s Tennis hosting rival Stanford (coming off their ITA Indoors semifinal run) in the Big Slam.

All the events on campus this weekend:

Undefeated Cal Rugby (12-0, 3-0 in Pac) hosts UBC and USC on Saturday; home leg of the “World Cup” contest

As much as I wanted to call University of British Columbia (16-4, 12-3) to be Cal’s true “rival”, the UBC Thunderbirds have greatly transformed from a college squad to a pro squad (remember, college athletics is not a thing in Canada). In both contests last year, UBC have played a couple of 28 years old who have had pro experiences in addition to past college experience (one guy exhausted his college eligibility playing for Central Washington but is now doing some grad school at UBC). Simply put, this rivalry has turned into a amateur vs. pro situation in recent years - and a big reason why UBC has dominated the contest and retain the “World Cup” (a trophy presented to the winner of this annual series from the Vancouver World newspaper).

The Cal-UBC rugby rivalry is a long traditional home-and-home series with the side that has the best point differential across both legs as the winner of the “World Cup” trophy. Bears will make the trip up to Vancouver on March 4th, next Sunday.

From the Cal Rugby presser, linked above, coach Jack Clark talks about the transformation of this rivalry (he actually shared almost verbatim sentiment to me when I talked to him few weeks ago).

“The matches with the Thunderbirds are always highly anticipated. We are excited to compete,” coach Clark said. “These are important matches for our development. UBC has an excellent team and they make these matches lesson rich for us. The only change is that in recent years, the last few, UBC is not really a collegiate athletic team in the context of U.S. collegiate athletics. This is different than our historic rivalry. Previously, we importantly measured our team against them, but this is less relevant now. I’m sure they must feel the same way. We have well-known former players like Danny Barrett and Blaine Scully who are younger than some of their players, and Danny and Blaine wouldn’t derive much satisfaction from playing against university-aged students. Needless to say, we play to win Saturday, we relish the opportunity and it will help us down the road.”

Nonetheless, the match this weekend will be a good test for the fairly young Cal squad that has been playing quite well thus far this season. A good showing against the more physical and older UBC side will be a great experience for the Bears (assuming that no one gets hurt).

Cal Bears are coming off a triumphant weekend down in Arizona where they defeated Arizona (the team that won the PAC 7’s championship this past fall over the Bears in OT) 48-17 and Arizona State 72-5 to improve to 3-0 in PAC play. It will be a doubleheader this Saturday as the Bears will play their reserves against the young program that is USC (0-5, 0-3 in PAC) after the UBC match.

Cal Men’s Golf wins 3rd tournament, individual co-win for Crampton and Morikawa

I have written a bit about how 2018 is likely year one of a great two year window for Cal Men’s Golf to win program’s 2nd NCAA championship. Cal Men’s Golf backs my faith by winning their 3rd tournament of the year this past weekend and in dominant fashion of winning by 20 strokes (2nd best in program history).

Cal duo of Sebastian Crampton and Colin Morikawa were tied with two other golfers for 1st place (they didn’t do a tiebreaker in this tournament). The other Cal Bears finished in the top 12 - Cheatham was 9th and Limbhasut was 12th. The non-scoring (only the top 4 score each round counts) 5th Bears, Ben Doyle, was 25th.

Pure domiance.




FINAL TEAM LEADERBOARD (after 3 of 3 days/3 of 3 rounds/54 of 54 holes)

1. California (275-274-268 – 817, -47)

2. Texas Tech (284-280-273 – 837, -27)

3. Colorado (287-278-280 – 845, -19)

4. UCLA (289-290-269 – 848, -16)

5. Kansas (292-287-285 – 864, E)

FINAL PLAYER LEADERBOARD – INDIVIDUAL MEDALISTS (after 3 of 3 days/3 of 3 rounds/54 of 54 holes)

T1. Sebastian Crampton – Cal (67-69-66 – 202, -14)

T1. Collin Morikawa – Cal (68-69-65 – 202, -14)

T1. Fredrik Nilehn – Texas Tech (70-67-65 – 202, -14)

^T1. Austin Eckroat – Oklahoma State (68-70-64 – 202, -14)

^Played as an individual

FINAL PLAYER LEADERBOARD – CAL INDIVIDUALS (after 3 of 3 days/3 of 3 rounds/54 of 54 holes)

T1. Sebastian Crampton (67-69-66 – 202, -14)

T1. Collin Morikawa (68-69-65 – 202, -14)

T5. Jamie Cheatham (68-67-72 – 207, -9)

T12. KK Limbhasut (72-70-69 – 211, -5)

T25. Ben Doyle (78-69-68 – 215, -1)

^T38. Finigan Tilly (74-71-73 – 218, +2)^Played as an individual

Deservedly, Colin Morikawa is getting more attention for awards.

Both Morikawa and teammate Limbhasut are also rising in the Arnold Palmer Cup ranking. Morikawa is up to No.5 for Team US while Limbhasut is up to No.10 for Team International. The top 6 from each list will make the team, to be announced in mid-March. Morikawa helped Team USA win the Arnold Palmer Cup last summer.

After this weekend off, Cal Men’s Golf will play in Cabo San Lucas in Mexico next weekend for the Querencia Cabo Collegiate.

No.21 Cal Women’s Gymnastics hosts No.4 Utah

Golden Bears defeated host Stanford for the 2nd time this past Saturday. Here are the highlights again:

While that was one of the best road team score for the Bears, they have traditionally perform much better at home. Bears will host No.4 Utah on Sunday at 11 AM PT on the Pac-12 Networks. The Utah Red Rocks (how their women’s gymnastics team is known) are coming off a big win at UCLA last weekend.

Two weeks ago, Bears hosted the similarly ranked top 5 UCLA at Haas and proceed to break a bunch of program records (despite falling short in the final team score). I hope to see the same kind of efforts and results this weekend.

Cal Track and Field competes at MPSF Championship

The indoor track and field season is quickly coming to an end as the MPSF championship is this weekend. This will be one of the last chance to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships in two weeks from College Station, Texas. Top 16 individual and top 12 relay times in the country are the requirements to make the NCAA.

Looking to defend their conference titles from an year ago are Ashtyn Davis (who you might know from Cal Football) in the 60m hurdles, Joyce/Chohan/Hamilton/Corcoran in distance medley relay, and after taking last year off due to an injury Isabella Marten in the triple jump.

The Cal men are ranked 7th while the Cal women are ranked 4th regionally. The men took 7th last year while the women took 12th. The Cal women have much higher expectation in 2018 with the return of Marten and the dominance of the distance runners in senior Bethan Knights and freshman Brie Oakley.

Currently only 3 Bears, Johnson (Shot Put), Kaukolahti (Triple Jump) and Knights (5000m), are in position to make the NCAA in two weeks. This list will hopefully grow when the weekend is over.

Cal Lacrosse (2-1) is over 0.500 for 1st time since 2013

After a dominant 18-8 home win over the Mercer Bears, Cal Lacrosse is having a winning record for the first time since 2013 (I know, it’s only been a few games) and the first time in coach Brooke Eubanks’ Cal tenure.

Bears beat UC Davis 11-9 in the season opener and only drops a close 12-11 decision to San Diego State. In other words, there are evidences that the resurgence is real.

Cal defender Elizabeth Koehler earned some recognition for her great work last week.

Bears will travel East this weekend to take on UConn and UMass-Lowell. UConn’s two losses this year come against top 10 ranked teams. After several consecutive years of traveling to the Philly area, this year’s team will only stay in the New England region.

Golden Bears are getting a balance attack early in the year. Nine different Bears have tallied a goal so far, with eight scoring multiple goals. Cal goalie Jenny Wilkens is also quickly rising in the program record book for saves. The junior is already 7th with 94 saves; she should surpass 100 for 6th place soon. 162 is the program record.

Cal Beach Volleyball Season Preview

2017 Result: 13-12, 2-3 in Pac-12

2018 Key returnees: junior Mia Merino (part of the Cal No.1 pair for the past two seasons) who was injured at the end of last year, senior Jessica Gaffney (former indoor defensive specialists that paired with Merino in some matches), sophomore Madison Dueck (who will blog for the team this year) is expected to pair with senior Bryce Bark

2018 Key newcomer: Indoor Volleyball standout Mima Mirkovic is an accomplished beach player in high school, Mirkovic will pair up with another freshman in Alexia Inman

College beach volleyball is played similar to tennis with the result of the dual determined by the results of the 5 matches. Unlike tennis (and due to the restriction on the number of courts available), typically only two to three matches are happening simultaneously.

This will be the 4th seasons for the newest of all Cal programs. Head coach Meagan Owusu (formerly Schmitt) was a Cal Volleyball libero turned coach. She married former Cal Football player and changed her last name this past offseason.

As expected, Beach Volleyball is another sports for the Pac-12, AKA The Conference of Champions, to dominate. NCAA Beach Volleyball championships occurred for the first time in 2016 and both of the national titles have been won by USC. Bears are not ranked in the preseason poll but received some votes for returning the bulk of the roster plus the addition of some talented freshmen.

Given the trajectory of the past few seasons and how there are still quite some room for growth for this program, it is easy to expect the Bears to have the season yet for the program in 2018. To make the field of 8 in the NCAA tournament, the Bears need to be either the top 3 teams in the West or one of the two at-large bids (which have gone to West coast teams for the past two years). In other words, Bears likely need to be in the top 5-6 in the country. That might be the goal for the near future when this year’s talented freshmen have matured a bit more.

Bears will open the season on Saturday with matches against Pacific and St. Mary’s from Stockton, CA. There will be separate Pac-12 South (from Santa Monica) and Pac-12 North (from Seattle) tournaments this year. Bears will host the Big Spike in the Sand on April 21st. Stanford will host the Pac-12 tournament this year.