Cal women win fourth straight conference title

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Both the Cal men's and women's crew teams headed to Lake Natoma, Calif. this weekend for the Pac-10 Championships -- but only the top-ranked women came back as Pac-10 champions. The No. 2 men were runners-up to the University of Washington.

The Cal women emerged victorious in three races out of four, securing their fourth straight Pac-10 title. The Bears saw competition from Stanford, USC, Washington, Washington State, UCLA, and Oregon.

"We knew we were going to be there, both Stanford and USC are fantastic crews," women's head coach Dave O'Neill said. "We've been coming along and doing pretty well."

The women's varsity 8+ final proved to be an exciting encounter, as the Bears came away with a mere half-second triumph -- 7:02.1 to Stanford's 7:02.6.

"I don't use the word epic too often, but that was an epic race," O'Neill said. "We're not the biggest crew out there, but they definitely showed they've got a lot of heart and a lot of fight in them."

Cal also pulled out the win in the varsity 4+ event. The team had a two-second advantage ahead of USC midway through the race, but even when Washington surpassed USC, the Bears stayed in front. They finished four seconds ahead of the competition with a time of 7:14.6 to Washington's 7:18.7. The second varsity 8+ boat clinched second place in their race, adding to the Bears' overall team tally of 43.5 points. Stanford was in second place with 34 points.

The windy and rainy weather near Sacramento wasn't ideal for either squad, but the conditions seemed to trouble the Cal men more as they placed second in three of their four races.

"We knew that the water was going to get a little rough at times, but I'm still proud of our efforts," junior Rob Poole said.

The Bears scored 65 total points to remain close to Washington's final sum of 70 points. However, the Huskies held their dominance in the three races where Cal sputtered. Washington did not trail in the varsity 8+ race, and even with Cal's extra push at the first 500-meter split, the race ended 5:39.9-5:58.2 in favor of the Huskies.

It was the same story for the other two varsity boats. The 4+ finished with a time of 6:29.6 a large gap from Washington's winning time of 6:49.4 - while the second varsity 8+ boat had a more respectable margin at 5:41.5-5:52.3.

"It was difficult and we weren't entirely happy with the way things turned out," Poole said. "But we still have a few more races in us until the season ends."

Following a week off, the women compete at the IRA Championships in New Jersey while the men head back to Lake Natoma for the NCAA Championships in two weeks.


Camellia Senemar covers crew. Contact her at [email protected]

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