Bears Hone Technique, Focus at Lake Natoma Invitational

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The first 20 strokes of a race are powered by sheer adrenaline. The last 40 or so, by raw power and a need to end the pain of the race. It is the middle 1,000 meters that take focus and mental stamina.

After only two races, the Cal women's crew team is already in the thick of the season honing their technique and working on mental focus.

The Bears raced at the Lake Natoma Invitational last weekend against No. 4 Stanford and No. 14 Washington State. Cal secured a strong first place lead on the first day of racing winning seven of its eights races, including two events for the first varsity eight.

The Bears had a total of 36 points for the regatta. Stanford and Washington State were tied for second place when the first day of racing came to a close. The schools were four points behind Cal with 32 points each.

"I didn't even focus on who we were racing. We just really wanted to make each piece that we had better," team captain Mary Jehgers said. "Each race got better and better as the weekend went on. That was really our main goal, more than focusing on Stanford."

The crew racing season is so short, with so few regattas, that it is particularly critical squads find their rhythm fast. After months of training and just two weeks of racing, the Bears are ready to shift into the next part of the season.

"We set a tone in terms of the attitude from day, and now we're just in a different chapter," coach Dave O'Neill said.

In a sport as mental as crew, training the mind is equally as important as toning the body. For the last few weeks of training, the Bears have turned their attention to making small tweaks in technique while building their mental focus.

"When everybody in the boat is focused, clued in on the same thing, you end up having better practices," Jehgers said. "They turn into better races."

Cal's first varsity eight was down against Stanford in the beginning of Saturday's race, but Jeghers was focused on the feel of her boat. It was about getting the fastest time they could and having the best race possible as a boat. The Bears kept their heads in the boat, passed Stanford and finished with an open water gap.

"We make going out there and racing about us, not about beating another team," O'Neill said.

The Bears will face their stiffest competition yet over the next two weeks when they race Washington next Saturday and Stanford a week later.


Contact Anna Hiatt at [email protected]

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