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Cal Men’s Rowing to race for national championships #18 in 2018 IRA Championship Sunday Grand Finals

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Cal V8+ boat is racing for the program’s 18th team national championship in school history.

Will national championship #18 comes in 2018 for Cal Men’s Rowing?
Cal Athletics Twitter

As expected, all four Cal Men’s Rowing boats at the 2018 IRA Championships from Lake Mercer in West Windsor, New Jersey will be racing in their respective Grand Finals on Sunday, including the V8+ boat that will decide if the oldest Cal Athletics program that is California Golden Bears Men’s Rowing program can bring home their 18th national championships in 2018.

You can watch the Sunday Finals, coverage starting at 4:30 AM PT, in the embedded YouTube channel below:

As mentioned in my Friday post, this will be the last race with veteran head coach Mike Teti leading the Golden Bears. However, a familiar face will be in charge of the program going forward as Associate Head Coach and 3x Calympian Scott Frandsen ‘02 will take over next year.

Here are the schedules and participants (not in the final lineup order) for the various Grand Finals on Sunday June 3rd. Note, due to the potential inclement weather, the schedule has been condensed and inverted.

Varsity 8+: 9:05 AM PT 4:30 AM PT This race decides the “national championship”

Cal, Washington, Brown, Harvard, Yale, Princeton

2nd Varsity 8+: 8:00 AM PT 4:51 AM PT

Cal, Washington, Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Northeastern

3rd Varsity 8+: 7:40 AM PT 4:58 AM PT

Cal, Washington, Northeastern, Harvard, Boston University, Yale

Varsity 4+: 6:30 AM PT 6:08 AM PT

Cal, Washington, Princeton, Drexel, Boston University, Holy Cross

While not as prestigious as the main V8+ result, there is also a trophy, the Ten Eyck, that goes to the schools with the most team points from the four races. Cal Bears were able to capture both back in 2016 - the 17th and most recent time that the oldest Cal Athletics sports have won the national championships.

By the way, a potential next national championships would be the 99th in the long history of Cal Athletics.

Varsity 8+

This is a veteran group of guys who are looking to redeem for last year’s disappointing 5th place finish in the Grand Final. The strongest rower on this boat is senior and 2016 Poland Calympian in Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk who has been named Pac-12 Rower of the Year for the last 3 years as well as earning the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete honor for the sociology major.

The rest of the boat is also full of International talent from all over who may also be future Calympians. Note that the bios on the CalBears dot com website only has info dating back to 2016.

Coxswain John Amorosana is a junior who is in his 2nd year on the V8 boat.

Junior Joachim Sutton is from Denmark. He rows in the 4 boat internationally for Denmark and was a member of the Cal V8 boat that won the 2016 national championship.

Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk competed in the single scull event in the 2016 Rio games for his native Poland where he finished 7th, being the youngest rower in the field. The 3x Pac-12 Rower of the Year was also a part of that 2016 national championship winning boat.

Alex Wallis is another senior who is a native Californian that has been on the V8 boat for at least two years prior. He also knows what it’s like to win and what it’s like to fall short.

Maarten Hurkmans is a Dutch junior that has won the U23 Worlds it the eight boat for Netherlands. He has also been on the Cal V8+ boat for the past three years.

George Finlayson is an Australian freshman. Obviously this is his first IRA championship.

Nik Krebs next to him is a fellow freshman, but from Slovenia.

Toward the front of the boat, Martin Mackovic is a senior from Serbia. He won bronze in the pair event at the U23 World Championships. He is another veteran of the Cal V8+ boat.

Christoph Seifriedsberger is a sophomore from Austria. He has won the bronze in the four event at the U23 World Championships. This is his 2nd year on the Cal V8+ boat.

After having the best time on the Friday heat to advance to the Saturday semifinals, Cal V8+ finished a close 3rd behind Washington and Brown but well ahead of 4th place Northeastern to advance to Sunday’s Grand Final.

2nd ranked Cal Bears have yet to defeat rival Washington Huskies in 2018 losing the Schoch Cup (from the annual dual meet) and the Pac-12 Championships. Nonetheless, the margin is slim enough that a Cal victory on Sunday would not be all that shocking.

Washington Huskies have dominated this IRA Championship for the first half of the 2010’s before Cal Bears broke through in 2016. Last year, a surprising Yale Bulldogs team (under the guidance of former Cal head coach and Cal Athletics AD Steve Gladstone) won their first championship in their history. All three (Cal, Washington, Yale) of the most recent winners will be racing for this championship again, along with Harvard, Princeton, and Brown.

2nd Varsity 8+

The 2V8+ boat finds their way to their Grand Final with a pair of impressive wins. Golden Bears bested Washington in a head-to-head race by 2.5 seconds to secure the top seed in Sunday’s final.

Just like all the other boats, Cal finished 2nd to Washington in the Pac-12 championships earlier this year.

3rd Varsity 8+

After winning their Friday heat, Cal’s 3V8+ boat took 3rd place in Saturday’s semifinal to book their spot in Sunday’s final.

Varsity 4

The toughest road to their Grand Final belongs to Cal V4+ boat. In the same Friday heat as the favorites in Washington, Cal took 2nd place and had to race in the Friday afternoon repechage which the Golden Bears easily won.

Bears finished just behind UW in Saturday’s semifinal to advance to Sunday’s Grand Final.

Unlike Friday and Saturday where the biggest race of the V8+ goes first, Sunday schedule (posted above) will see the biggest race last (unless their is a change of schedule due to potential is summer on the East Coast after all).

Yours truly is planning a trip up to see these races in person on Sunday. Being sure to check out the live updates via Twitter (both @GoldenBlogs for CGB and @YRueyYen for my personal one).