In what has to be one of the best men's final in recent memory, the Cal Bears nabbed a few seats early and fought off multiple charges from Stanford and Washington in the last thousand to win. Stanford's final sprint was impressive and almost got them through the Bears, but they fell short by 0.3 seconds. Washington took bronze, half a length back.
Cal head coach Mike Teti was pleased with his team's performance. "We executed well. I think they technically rowed well. I haven't watched the video yet, but I suspect it was pretty good," he said. "They held it together. When you're leading like that by a little bit all the way down the course and you're able to fend off all of those challenges, I think it says a lot about the character of the crew. Also, it says a lot about the character of Stanford and Washington."
The three crews will meet one final time in three weeks at what is shaping up to be a very competitive IRA field with up to six crews eyeing potential gold.
It was a bittersweet day for Washington, who swept the first three men's races in convincing fashion, only to finish second to Cal in the points standing by virtue of their third place finish in the Varsity 8. The Husky frosh were especially impressive, winning with a time that would have put them within a second of Cal's Varsity 8. The Frosh now head into IRA's as the prohibitive favorites to win.
On the women's side, Stanford and Cal's top boats lived up to their top rankings with both crews running fast down the course. Both crews fought level through the thousand before Stanford moved out to win by a length - with a course record 6:18.6.
It was Stanford's first win in the event since 2003, and Head Coach Yasmin Farooq's first. "I am really proud of the performance the varsity eight put out there today," she said. "They are learning with each race and becoming a better and stronger team."
The race for the bronze behind Stanford and Cal ended in a photo finish, with Oregon State nipping the Washington by a bow ball to win their first bronze in the event since 2000. The Beavers raced a very smart piece, negative splitting each 500 to come from last at the 500, to third at the line.
The women's 2V and V4 were very tight contests. In the Second Varsity, Cal edged Stanford with Washington taking bronze. The Varsity Four required reviews for both gold and bronze. The Bears sprinted through USC to win by two tenths, and the Huskies held off a charging Oregon State crew for bronze. Those two wins, and a silver in the Novice 8 event locked up the team championship for the Cal.
In the race for team bids for NCAA's, Cal, Stanford, Washington, and Oregon State now look to be locks, with USC likely getting one as well.
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