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Golden Medals: Cal Rugby in National 7s pool play today; Crew took 2nd at Pac-12

Barring a surprise deep run by Cal Softball, the three best chances for a 2017-18 team national championships are these next three weekends: rugby 7s this weekend, women’s crew next week, men’s crew in 2 weeks

Cal Rugby is seeking the program’s 6th Rugby 7s national championship this weekend. It will be the first time that the Bears are competing in the National 7s in Colorado.

Cal Rugby in National 7s: Pool play today; Knockout round tomorrow

With the Collegiate Rugby Championship no longer on the National TV (although part of that tournament in two weeks will be on ESPNNews), Cal Rugby opted to not travel all the way to the East Coast to defend their 5 consecutive CRC Rugby 7s national championships. Instead, the Golden Bears will play at Glendale, Colorado in the USA Rugby Collegiate National 7s today and tomorrow, against some of the same opponents (okay, no Life) that they would have faced in Chester, Pennsylvania.

In this 16 team tournament, the top 2 teams from each pool will advance to Saturday’s knockout round. Cal is in the same pool (Pool B) as Indiana, Fordham, and Notre Dame College.

The 15 men roster for the Cal Bears this weekend will be:

Underclassmen selected for the trip include freshmen Adam Roeske and Marcus Shankland, and sophomores Keanu Andrade, Sam Cusano, Christian Dyer, Ken Kurihara and Thomas Spradling. Upperclassmen include juniors Troy Lockyear, Nic Mirhasem and Elliot Webb, and seniors Matthew Coyle, Justin Dunn, Aidan Flynn, Thomas Robles and Zachary Tavenner.

About a bit more than half of the team were on the travel squad that won the 2017 CRC last year, where then freshman Sam Cusano scored the most tries, but it was the veteran decision making of Russell Webb that put the Bears on top.

More information about this weekend’s rugby action can be found here.

The other main contenders for this championships are Lindenwood (the 15s squad that the Bears bested from Moraga, CA in the 15s semifinal), Kutztown (the other “Golden Bears” that our sturdy Golden Bears have faced in CRC knockout rounds for the past few years), Arizona, and Utah. The full list includes Lindenwood, Arkansas, Utah and Missouri in Pool A; Arizona, Grand Canyon, Florida International and Nevada in Pool C; and Kutztown, American International, Western Washington and Wisconsin in Pool D.

The schedule for today’s actions for the Bears are:

10:40 AM PT: Cal vs. Indiana

4 PM PT: Cal vs. Fordham

6 PM PT: Cal vs. Notre Dame College

Fans can watch the action both today and tomorrow on FloRugby, for their regular subscription fee.

The Pool B winner will face the Pool A runner-ups in the Quarterfinal on Saturday at 10 AM PT. Semifinal will be at 3 PM PT. Final will be played around 7:40 PM PT.

Golden Bears are going for their 6th Rugby 7s national championship in program history, all 5 of the titles came in the last 5 years from the CRC. Cal has only competed in the CRC since the formulation of that tournament back in 2010, but did not break through with the championship until the 4th try in 2013. The next national championship will be the 34th (15s + 7s) for Cal Rugby and 98th overall for Cal Athletics. Golden Bears fell short of adding to this total earlier this year when they lost to Life Running Eagles in the USA Rugby 15s national championship final.

Cal Women’s Crew took 2nd at Pac-12 Championships - seeded 2nd or 3rd for NCAA next week

The next best chance for team national championship No.98 will be Cal Women’s Rowing in NCAA Championship action next weekend from Saratoga, Florida. The program is hoping to win their 4th NCAA title (and 5th overall with the 1980 title predating the NCAA championship). Golden Bears were the champs in 2016 but took 2nd behind a dominant Washington Huskies crew in 2017.

The Huskies again appear to be the dominant favorites although the Golden Bears did best them earlier in the year in the annual dual meet between the two rowing powerhouses. UW got the bigger prize in the Pac-12 Championships last Sunday, however.

The Varsity Eight race is always the biggest race in college crew. For the women’s NCAA championship, it will be the result that is half of the scoring (AND the tie-breaker).

Washington dominated this race with Stanford just edging the Bears last week. Earlier this year, Cal has beaten both Washington AND Stanford to win the season duals. It is certainly plausible for this result to flip next Sunday.

The 2V8 race also went to Washington.

The last (actually first) of the 3 races that will determine the NCAA title next weekend is the Varsity 4 race. Washington also bested the Golden Bears for the Pac-12 title last week.

Although other schools such as Ohio State and Brown had used to be in the mix for the national title, the top seeding for the NCAA championships next week are all Pac-12 schools. Cal is seeded 3rd in V8 behind Washington and Stanford and 2nd in 2V8 and V4 behind Washington. Washington made history last year as the first program to sweep all three races.

Golden Bears are the best bet to stop that Washington dominance from oppressing the Collegiate Women’s Rowing world in 2018.

Cal Men’s Crew took 2nd at Pac-12 Championships

On the men’s side, the Cal Bears again finished behind Washington in the Pac-12 championships. In the IRA championship, the main team title goes to the result of the Varsity 8 race alone. Unlike the Cal women, the Cal men finished behind Washington in both the regular season dual AND the Pac-12 championships.

Nonetheless, last year’s IRA championship had a surprise finish when Yale came out of nowhere to win their first IRA national title in the history of that long time program. Anything result is possible in two weeks from Lake Mercer in New Jersey.

At the Pac-12 last Sunday, the 2V8 and 3V8 boats also took 2nd behind Washington.

The future does look bright for the Golden Bears though, as the Cal Freshman 8 boat did win a Pac-12 title.

Alternating between East Coast and West Coast, the IRA championship is back in Lake Mercer near Princeton in 2018 on June 1st-3rd. This is near the main USA Rowing training site.

Of course, the big news from USA Rowing this past year is the opening of a 2nd training site, for the men, right by where the Cal Bears train in Oakland. Cal men’s crew head coach Mike Teti, former Olympic champ and Olympic champ coach, will leave Cal to head this program. So far, there have been no news yet on who will replace Teti to lead Cal Men’s Crew after this season.

Finally, a big congratulations to Polish Calympian Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk (he competed in the single scull in Rio 2016 and was then the youngest competitor) on earning the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year honor. The now senior and sociology major has a 3.695 cumulative GPA. Natan is someone to watch in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games as well.

Cal Men’s Golf’s season shockingly ends at Raleigh Regional

This one stings. With two mediocre team rounds before they finally awake on day 3, Cal Men’s Golf sees their season ends in the NCAA Regional. Seeded 2nd in the regional with the 9th overall ranking in the country, Cal will miss out on the NCAA championship along side the top seed of the regional in 4th nationally ranked Georgia Tech.

Lonnie Poole Golf Course in Raleigh, NC is supposedly one of the tougher course in the country. Bears did not exactly play poorly, but a bunch of teams were able to get those birdies while the Bears stayed at even in the first two days to fall 11 strokes behind by the end of the 2nd round.

The top ranked individual player in college, Cal junior Collin Morikawa also just missed out on the lone individual spot (for the one golfer with the best finish outside the 5 advancing teams) by three strokes. His top 10 finish was just not enough to prolong the season.

Good news is that all of the top players will be back next year, and the Bears will add even more talent into the mix.

*1. Texas (271-273-269 – 813, -39)

*2. Duke (281-272-277 – 830, -22)

*3. North Carolina State (275-277-279 – 831, -21)

*4. Augusta (278-284-270 – 832, -20)

*5. Arizona State (276-283-275 – 834, -18)

6 Georgia Tech (274-279-282 – 835, -17)

7. Middle Tennessee State (280-281-275 – 836, -16)

T8. Liberty (280-277-283 – 840, -12)

T8. Missouri (280-283-277 – 840, -12)

10. Cal (284-285-276 – 845, -7)

11. Santa Clara (276-290-280 – 846, -6)

12. Campbell (289-281-278 – 848, -4)

13. Davidson (296-294-287 – 877, +25)

14. Iona (295-301-308 – 904, +52)

*Advance to NCAA Championships

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

T10. Collin Morikawa (68-71-68 – 207, -6)

T26. Kaiwen Liu (70-73-68 – 211, -2)

T32. KK Limbhasut (74-69-69 – 212, -1)

T51. Sebastian Crampton (72-72-72 – 216, +3)

NA. Ben Doyle (75-NP-71 – NA, NA)

NA. Finigan Tilly (NP-77-NP – NA, NA)

Cal Women’s Water Polo’s season ends in NCAA semifinal

ICYMI, one of the best season in Cal Women’s Water Polo program history came to an end last Saturday when the Bears were eliminated by rival Stanford in the NCAA semifinal. Host and top ranked USC ends up winning the national championship over Stanford on Sunday.

Bears defeated Michigan in the quarterfinal.

But could not even their season record against Stanford in the biggest stage (Bears fell to 1-3 against Stanford in 2018).

Golden Bears received a season ending No.3 ranking. They will certainly miss their seniors next year, especially the Hungarian Calympian pair of Dora Antal, Cal’s all time goal scorer and 11th best in MPSF history, and Anna Illes among other key players. Still, the program appears to be trending in the right direction under Coralie Simmons after two years.

It should only be a matter of (hopefully short) time before this Cal program breakthrough to join fellow California Pac-12 schools in USC, Stanford, and UCLA as the next school to win a NCAA women’s water polo national championship.

Cal Men’s Tennis is eliminated by host Texas in 2nd Round

After a big upset win over NC State in the first round, Cal Men’s Tennis’s team season ends with a 2nd round loss to host Texas Longhorns, the 12th ranked team in the country.

Against the NC State Wolfpack, Bears lost the doubles point but then took 5 of the 6 singles first set to take over momentum. Bears won the first 4 singles result to take a 4-1 win to advance to the 2nd round.

Against Texas, Cal had a small window to win the doubles point but could not serve out a key game. Texas dominated the singles action and advanced to the Sweet 16 via a 4-0 result.

Individually, Cal senior Billy Griffith will compete in the singles championship. He will also pair up with fellow senior J.T. Nishimura to compete in the doubles championship. These will take place from the campus of Wake Forest after the completion of both the men’s and women’s NCAA tennis championships.

It’s odd that both the Cal men and the Cal women are absent from the NCAA final 16 this year, but both programs are quite young and should only get better.