Cal Defends a Title, Loses Another to Top-Ranked Washington

Women's Crew Wins Third Consecutive Pac-10 Championship, But Men Fall Just Short

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The crew championship title was a race of inches, as it always is. While the Cal men's crew team lost once again to Washington by just half a boat length, the women's success in their varsity eight race and the overall tournament point tally was even closer.

"We knew the championship would come down to the last race," women's coach Dave O'Neill said. "The varsity eight was definitely up for the challenge. Having Jill (Costello) in the coxswain seat added a level of calmness to the crew as well as a ton of strength and inspiration."

This was the third consecutive Pac-10 title win for the women's squad. Although the Cal women only placed first in the varsity eight category, they had enough points at the end of the weekend to edge out Stanford 39.5 to 39.0 points.

Meanwhile, the men came close to No. 1 Washington, but fell short at Lake Natoma in Gold River, Calif. This late in the season it's hard to make substantial improvements in race times; all crews are maturing at around the same rate.

"It was a tough week leading up to today because of final exams," O'Neill said. It was tough coordinating practices, and we weren't able to (do) everything we usually do. I could tell (a) few women were really exhausted by Friday, so I'm glad with how they rebounded for today."

Despite putting up a solid fight and showing improvements in race times, the defending champions lost all four of their races to the No. 1 Huskies. Cal placed second in all four of their races, while Stanford and Oregon State trailed in third and fourth in every race, respectively.

Varsity eight races are the premiere events at regattas, and the contest between Cal and Washington on Sunday did not disappoint. Cal's time was good enough for second place (5:49.20), but in the end, Washington was the stronger crew (5:45.80).

The two boats got off the starting line fast with Cal in the lead but a hair. At the 500-meter mark, the Huskies and the Bears were separated by a mere 0.17 seconds. With each successive 500 meter stretch, Washington pushed a little more in front of Cal.

The Bears were consistently strong throughout the race with a solid 14.30 second lead over third-place Stanford at the finish line.

Despite the disappointment of coming in second, the Cal men have reason to celebrate.

Since the two squads last met three weeks ago, Cal has managed to narrow the gap. At the dual meet in April, Washington's varsity eight won by 4.10 seconds. This weekend Cal narrowed the gap to 3.40 seconds.

Though a great disappointment to the team, the loss did not come as a surprise. Just three weeks ago in a dual meet at Redwood Shores, Calif., the Huskies swept Cal in all four of their races.

But the nail-biting rivalry dates back far longer than this season. For more than 10 years, Washington and Cal's men's squads traded between first and second place at the Pac-10 Championships.

There was a single exception in 2006 when Stanford came in first, bumping Washington down to third.


Contact Anna Hiatt at [email protected]

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