Lineup Changes Help Cal to a 12-Race Sweep

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Cal women's crew coach Dave O'Neill faltered a bit when he tried to remember the lineup of the varsity eight boat that raced Saturday. It's no wonder why he did.

Recently, practice has been all about changing lineups. The V8 which raced Saturday had barely rowed together before their race -- maybe a couple of practices -- when it was switched again for Sunday's race.

The Bears swept away their competition at the Pac-10 Challenge in Redwood City, Calif., placing first in all 12 of its races this weekend.

"We went into it with that aggressive mindset," freshman Kara Koehler said. "We just kind of honed in everything we've been talking about -- about our composure -- to get our max power."

It was a weekend for experimentation. No two lineups were the same from race to race. The varsity boat, which raced Saturday and beat Iowa by 14 seconds, had an almost completely different lineup from the one which raced Wisconsin on Sunday and won by five seconds. Only coxswain Chelsea Lucas was in the same seat.

"No one came off thinking this was not a good race, but this is what we could work on and make better," co-captain Mary Jehgers said.

While Cal cleaned up handily in most of its races, the squad did face tough competition against Stanford. The Cardinal's finishing time in the Varsity 4+ race was just a couple seconds off of Cal, whose boat crossed the 2,000 meter mark in 7:28.2.

Last weekend's sweep -- complete with dramatic changes in lineups -- has started Cal off on the right foot this season.

"Our team has so much depth to it that our varsity and our JV and our four can be so fast. And also the freshman too," Mary Jehgers said. "Everyone we have is so important that they all can make each boat go fast, no matter what the lineup is."

The women's V8 boat, which competed Saturday, had rowed together only a couple of times prior to race day. While this approach to concocting the perfect lineup is not atypical for collegiate and elite crews, it is a new one for Cal crew. According to Mary Jehger, this is the most frequently lineups have changed since she's been at Cal.

"We look at it like we have to have interchangeable parts," coach Dave O'Neill said. "Everyone can jump into any seat and go."

Not only is this a key to creating all-around good rowers, but this constant competition is also stoking a fire in the bellies of the women of Cal crew.

"This year more than ever -- with our training and our selection -- I've been taking a more patient approach," O'Neill said.

This season's ultimate goal, winning the Pac-10 and NCAA titles, is still a ways off.

Last year the Cardinal placed first in the women's V8 at both the NCAA and the Pac-10 championships. Despite Stanford's victory in the V8 category, Cal picked up the Pac-10 title. A couple weeks later, however, the Cardinal came back to claim the NCAA title.

"Everyone knows it's the first step. We've got quite a few races to go," O'Neill said.


Contact Anna Hiatt at [email protected]

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