April 21, 2012
REDWOOD SHORES -For the ninth year in a row, the fourth-ranked California women's rowing team retained the Simpson Cup in the Golden Bears' annual dual meeting against No. 2 Washington Saturday at Redwood Shores. In addition to retaining the trophy, Cal swept all four races against the Huskies.
"This was a great day for us," head coach Dave O'Neill said. "We knew we'd need to be at our best since Washington has a very good team. There's always a little extra motivation in this dual, and everyone really responded. We've taken some big steps since the first weekend of racing in San Diego, and we're turning ourselves into a pretty good team. Everyone is looking forward to the weeks ahead.
"I was really impressed with all four of the crews today. The novice eight got the day rolling with a big win, and the varsity eight definitely took notice as they were getting ready to launch."
The Simpson Cup is awarded annually to the winner of the varsity eight race between the Bears and the Huskies.
"We've had a good run with the Simpson Cup, and holding onto that trophy means a lot to our team," O'Neill said. "A lot of people have worked very hard over the years to make this happen. We simply take things one race at a time and look to improve. When that's the focus, a streak like we have in the Simpson Cup is the result."
With the Simpson Cup on the line in the varsity eight race, the final race of the day, Cal beat Washington by over seven seconds, 6:22.3-6:29.6. After a slow start in San Diego in the season opener, the Bear's top boat has now won its last four races.
"The varsity eight was really fired up to race, and it showed off the start," O'Neill said. "The Washington crew is really good, so we definitely had to give our best effort. We had a great first 500m, and that certainly set the tone for the rest of the race."
The closest finish of the day was in the varsity four. Cal clocked a winning time of 7:15.3 to Washington's 7:18.
"The four was challenged all the way down the course, and won a close fought battle," O'Neill said. "Washington always has a good four, so that's a good win."
O'Neill has said since before the season started how excited he is about his freshmen this year and about the underclassmen in general. The freshman eight proved O'Neill's predictions to be true once again on Saturday. The Bears' novice boat beat the Huskies by nearly 13 seconds, 6:45.8-6:58.3
While the closest finish was in the varsity four, the Bears actually trailed the Huskies at the outset of the second varsity eight race. Cal eventually overtook Washington and pulled away for the win, reaching the finish line with a time of 6:27.5 to Washington's 6:31.4.
"The second varsity eight was fantastic," O'Neill said. "They were down off the start, even at 1000m, and pulled away for an open-water win. That showed a lot of composure and toughness."
It doesn't get any easier for the Bears next week. Cal faces Stanford in The Big Row at Redwood Shores next Saturday, April 28. In addition, the Bears will don their aquamarine uniforms and row as Team Jill in honor of Jill Costello.
2012 Cal-Washington Dual
Junior Varsity Eight