April 21, 2013
GOLD RIVER, Calif. - No. 2 California women's rowing placed second overall at the highly-competitive, two-day Lake Natoma Invitational completed Sunday morning on Gold River near Sacramento. Cal captured three of the four grand finals on Sunday.
In a matchup of the top two teams in the nation, the second-ranked Golden Bears finished just one-point short of first-place and top-ranked USC following the busy weekend of racing. The Trojans surged ahead of the Bears with a close victory in the varsity eight grand final Sunday morning. No. 8 Stanford and No. 12 Notre Dame tied for third with No. 19 Washington State finishing fifth and No. 15 Wisconsin placing sixth. Tulsa, Kansas and Sacramento State placed seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively, in the final standings.
USC narrowly defeated Cal in the varsity eight grand final with the Trojans crossing the line in 6:20.4 to the Bears' time of 6:24.0. Stanford, which placed third with a time of 6:25.9, took the early lead with Cal second and USC third. The order remained through 1,000 meters before USC began to make its move. By 1,500 meters, USC pulled ahead and finished strong in the final 500 meters to win by a length over the Bears.
"I'm really impressed with all the crews in the varsity eight race," said California head coach Dave O'Neill. "The level is very high. That USC crew is very strong, and Stanford is really fast, as well. We showed that we have some good speed, and it was good to be in a hard-fought race like that. Being in a race like that can only help us later in the season."
Cal won the second varsity eight grand final, edging USC by just under two seconds with a time of 6:31.3 to USC's 6:33.2. USC raced out to the early lead, however through the body of the race the lead changed several times. Cal established a three-seat lead with 500 meters remaining and finished strong to capture the race. Stanford placed third with a time of 6:46.4.
"The second varsity eight race was terrific," said O'Neill. "We expected to be down off the start, but no one seemed too worried about that. This crew has a really good base speed, and they were confident about what they could do for the full 2,000 meters. They showed some good finishing speed in the last 500 meters, as well."
The Bears earned a four-second victory in the varsity four grand final, completing the course in 7:16.1 to second-place USC's 7:20.0 and third-place Stanford's 7:22.2. USC took a solid lead through the first 500 meters, but Cal settled into a strong base rhythm and established a half-length lead after 1,000 meters. Cal continued to its charge and won by open water.
"I'm really impressed with both the speed of the four and their composure in that race today," O'Neill said. "Coxswain Lynn Anderson called it perfectly, and everyone stayed focused on their race plan. That was a very good win."
Cal also captured the novice eight grand final with a time of 6:43.9 to defeat Wisconsin (6:46.3) by a length at the finish. The Badgers took the early lead in the race, but Cal pulled ahead after 500 meters. The Bears were strong through the middle of the race, earning the nearly three-second victory.
"Our novice eight had a great weekend, and they were really pushed by Wisconsin," O'Neill said. "Clara Nowinski and Savannah Eldridge in the stern pair rowed here on Lake Natoma as juniors, so their experience meant a lot."
Cal now turns its attention to next Saturday where the Bears seek their 10th-straight Simpson Cup as they head to Montlake Cut in Seattle to face Washington at 10 a.m. You can follow the Bears throughout the season through their official Twitter handle @CalWCrew.
Second Novice Eight
Cal Lineup: Hannah Lee (coxswain), Katy Bothwell, Gaby Pantoja, Monica Van Luven, Moraya Cleary, Mia Konjikusic, Dara Lipovic, Becca Roth, Andrea Perrez-Bertollotto.