Rankings Go Out the Boat in Race Toward Schwabacher Cup

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One year ago, Stanford shocked the rowing world by upsetting the Cal men's crew team in the Big Row for the first time in 17 years.

On Saturday, the Bears and Cardinal will meet once again to race for the Schwabacher Cup at Redwood Shores Lagoon in Redwood City, Calif.

So far, Cal has yet to find its identity with an up-and-down start to its spring season. After winning the Copely Cup at the San Diego Crew Classic on April 5, the Bears fell to Washington in a duel for the Schoch Cup this past weekend.

Cal will enter three boats for Saturday's events, which begin with the men's varsity eight at 10 a.m.

"What I'm trying to do is give everyone an opportunity to prove themselves on this level," coach Mike Teti said. "I think our strength was there against Washington, but we weren't rowing well enough.

"With all of the top teams close in strength and skill, if one crew is slightly off in a race, you have your margin. At the same time, if one crew has an exceptional race, you have your margin."

In rowing, finding the right combination of rowers is essential in reaching the ultimate speed.

"The right combination could mean everything," Teti said. "Even though we won at San Diego, I wasn't comfortable that that lineup could win a national championship. I have made some changes to get the guys rowing a bit better and we've been really focusing on technique this past week."

One week ago, Cal sat atop the collegiate rowing nation, with the USRowing poll's No. 1 ranking.

However, after the recent slip-up in the dual meet against the Huskies, the Bears find themselves as a numeric underdog against the Cardinal this weekend.

"Rankings really don't matter," junior coxswain Zachary Vlahos said. "Look at this last weekend when fourth-ranked Washington beat us and we were ranked number one. With no heats, we have one shot to beat Stanford this weekend and that's what we're focused on."

With the eventual goal being a victory at Lake Natoma, Calif., on June 6, the Bears will do their best to stay focused this weekend.

"Every time you line up against somebody, you want to win," Teti said. "But you have to keep the big picture in mind. What I'm trying to do is continue to improve each day so that we're ascending into the IRA championships in June."

When asked about his impressions of the team so far, coach Teti said:

"I think a lot of these guys have improved this year. Physiologically, they've improved a ton and I definitely see a light at the end of the tunnel.

"Teams like Stanford, Washington, Harvard, Princeton and Wisconsin are going to be great every year. But that's why I love collegiate racing. Even after a tough loss last weekend, the spirit on this team is pretty high."


Contact Danny Freisinger at [email protected]

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