May 18, 2008
GOLD RIVER, Calif. - California's No. 1-ranked varsity eight won its grand final over rival Stanford and the Golden Bears won three of four grand finals overall to capture the team title at the Pac-10 Rowing Championships on a hot Sunday afternoon at Lake Natoma. Cal compiled 79 points, while Stanford (61) was second and Washington (59) was third.
The Bears improved on last year's performance by one spot, while USC, which won the conference title in 2007, fell to sixth this year.
Cal has now won four of the last five Pac-10 titles, including three straight from 2004 to 2006. Led by the unbeaten and top-ranked varsity eight, the 2008 Cal team is peaking as it head towards the NCAA Women's Rowing Championships.
"We've put a lot of emphasis on this race certainly," Cal head coach Dave O'Neill said. "We know what race we have two weeks from today. What happens today doesn't necessarily determine what's going to happen two weeks from now. But we got some things figured out with the second varsity and the varsity eight's going well. I think they still have another gear in them. We've got another strong varsity four. We're looking forward to NCAAs for sure."
Cal's varsity eight competed in the last grand final of the day, leading from early on and posting a time of 6:38.8 to Stanford's 6:42.7. Washington was third in 6:44.7.
The Bears edged Oregon State in the second varsity eight, 6:50.9-6:52.3, and easily surpassed second-place Washington in the freshman or novice eight, 7:14.2-7:21.9. Cal was behind early to Washington in the novice eight race but caught and passed the Huskies at about the 1,250-meter mark.
"What happened in that second varsity eight was not a surprise," O'Neill said. "We knew we had a shot, we knew it was going to be a good race and they went out and did it."
The Bears took second in the varsity four to Washington, 7:39.6-7:43.0.
Cal's results in the freshman eight and varsity four were particularly impressive considering the Bears finished last in both races in the 2007 conference regatta.
"When the novice eight won by open water, I was sitting in our tent there with the varsity eight," O'Neill said. "We were just listening to the freshman eight race, and they had open water at the 1,000-meter mark, and I just made the comment, 'That right there shows what happens one year does not determine what happens next year.' And they all nodded like, 'Yeah.' Last year's team, give them a lot of credit for what they accomplished. This year's team, they've done a great job."
On Saturday at the Pacific Coast Rowing Championships also at Lake Natoma, Cal took third place in the open four race in a time of 8:24.1. Loyola Marymount won the open four in 8:16.7 and Sacramento State was second in 8:20.3.
Cal, one of the favorites to win the national championship, is expected to earn a berth to the NCAA Women's Rowing Championships when the NCAA announces the participating teams at 1 p.m. PT on May 20 on NCAA.com. The Bears are the host of the NCAA Women's Rowing Championships for Divisions I, II and III, which will run May 30-June 1 at Lake Natoma.
Pac-10 Rowing Championships
1. California 79 points. 2. Stanford 61. 3. Washington State 59. 4. Washington 57. 5. Oregon State 51. 6. USC 50. 7. UCLA 35.
Grand Final Race Results
Women's Varsity 8
Women's 2nd Varsity 8
Women's Novice 8
Women's Varsity 4