BERKELEY- No. 2 California men's crew will compete in the 112th annual Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) National Championships, Friday through Sunday, May 30 - June 1, at Mercer Lake in West Windsor, NJ.
Heading into the national championships, the Golden Bears are ranked No. 2 nationally in the latest USRowing Collegiate Poll, which was released on Wednesday.
A total of five Cal boats will participate at the IRAs - varsity eight, second varsity eight, varsity four, freshman eight and third varsity eight. The winner of the varsity eight grand final is recognized as the IRA national champion, regardless of the results in the other races.
Joining Cal in the 24-crew varsity eight field are Pac-12 crews Washington, Stanford and Oregon State, along with Boston U., Brown, College of the Holy Cross, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Drexel, Florida Institute of Technology, George Washington University, Gonzaga, Harvard, Hobart College, Northeastern, Princeton, Syracuse, U.S. Naval Academy, University of Pennsylvania, San Diego, Wisconsin and Yale.
Along with the three Pac-12 crews, Cal has faced fellow IRA varsity eight entries Wisconsin, Northeastern, George Washington and Syracuse this season. The Bears defeated Wisconsin at Redwood Shores in the Stanford Invitational and captured the Copley Cup against Northeastern, George Washington and Syracuse in the San Diego Crew Classic.
There are four heats of the varsity eight, with the first starting at 8 a.m. on Friday, May 30. Four heats of the second varsity eight heats follow at 9 a.m. At 9:45 a.m. two heats of the freshman eight are set to begin, with three heats of the third varsity eight following at 10:30 a.m. Friday’s schedule wraps up with three heats of the varsity four at 11:15 a.m. The semifinals will be held on Saturday, May 31 beginning at 9:00 a.m. and the finals on Sunday, June 1 starting at 8:50 a.m.
Cal has won 16 IRA national championships, most recently in 2010 and four years earlier in 2006. The Bears own the second most national crowns behind Cornell (26). Cal captured four-straight titles from 1999-2002. The 1999 championship was the school's first in the varsity eight since 1976.
Cal's varsity eight has won six of the last 14 IRA titles and placed outside of the top-three just twice (fourth in 2012 and fifth in 2013) in that 14-year span.
Last year, the Golden Bear varsity eight placed fifth in the grand final at Lake Natoma in Gold River, Calif., with the varsity four boat finishing second in its grand final. Cal’s second varsity eight, fresman eight and open four each placed third in the grand finals.
The Golden Bears took second in this past Sunday's Pac-12 Championships, winning a conference title in the second varsity eight in Gold River at Lake Natoma. Cal placed second in the novice eight, varsity four and varsity eight races behind top-ranked Washington.
Fans can follow the Bears as they prepare for the IRAs and keep track of the event with updates throughout the event on their official Twitter handle @CaliforniaCrew.