Top-Ranked Bears Invite Shaky Huskies for Simpson Cup Clash

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Cal women's crew has a reputation to uphold.

The undefeated No. 1 varsity eight hosts No. 15 Washington on Saturday at 9 a.m. in Redwood Shores, Calif., as the two crews battle for the Simpson Cup.

The Bears have held onto the title for the past four years and hope to make it five this weekend.

"I expect an aggressive race from Washington," junior Elena Humphreys said. "They always lay it all out there on race day and this Saturday will be no different."

The Huskies have had an interesting and unpredictable season: they won the prestigious Jessop-Whittier Cup at the San Diego Crew Classic (which Cal elected not to attend), but fell to Oregon State and Washington State in the subsequent weeks.

Despite these losses, Washington is still a force to be reckoned with. Bob Ernst, who guided the Husky men to an Intercollegiate Rowing Association championship last spring and was named Pac-10 and Rowing News coach of the year, now coaches the women.

"He's a great coach, and there are great athletes on that team," Cal coach Dave O'Neill said. "We need to be fully prepared and do the best we can this weekend."

A key factor to a successful weekend for the Bears may be the consistency in the lineup of the varsity eight; the same nine people have remained in the same seats for the last few races.

"The varsity is likely to stay the same for now," O'Neill said. "A crew has an identity, its own personality."

While the varsity boat has stayed the same over the past few weeks, the second varsity eight and varsity four have undergone some serious changes. O'Neill, however, appears confident in every one of his rowers' ability, no matter what the lineup.

"I think the 2V and four have had a different lineup for every race, and this weekend will be the fifth combination for each," O'Neill said. "For us right now, it's a sign that we have a deep and talented team, and any number of people can fill different roles."

Hopefully for Cal, the changes in these boats will prove to be effective against Washington, even though their races don't affect the varsity eight's seeding.

After losses to Virginia and Ohio State at the Pac-10 Challenge, the Bears' second boat rebounded with a win over Texas. Beating the Huskies' JV, which also won its event at the San Diego Crew Classic and is undefeated on the season, would solidify them as a fast crew.

"This week they've made some more steps in the right direction," O'Neill said of his JV crew.

While Cal will face the Huskies once again at the Pac-10 championships in just a few weeks, this weekend's race is nearly as important.

"This is the Washington Dual, and there's a lot of history behind this," O'Neill said. "This race means quite a bit for a number of people, and we're aware of that."


Contact Olivia Lasky at [email protected]

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