Unbeaten in a collegiate dual meet or championship final since 2010, the UW men’s varsity eight fell to top-ranked California by roughly seven seats, a nearly three-second margin. The Bears also won the women’s varsity eight race.
Not even the Washington men’s rowing team can win ’em all.
Unbeaten in a collegiate dual meet or championship final since 2010, the UW men’s varsity eight fell to top-ranked California by roughly seven seats, a nearly three-second margin, Saturday morning on Montlake Cut in the 104th renewal of a storied rivalry that dates back to 1903.
“We were estimating it could go either way within one or two seconds,” said UW coach Michael Callahan, who has guided Washington to five Intercollegiate Rowing Association national titles in the last six years, including the last four.
UW men’s crew by the numbers
2010 The last time the Huskies lost a collegiate dual meet or championship final. UW lost to Cal in the 2010 IRA grand finale.
5:38.8 The Bears’ winning time on Saturday, compared to 5:41.4 for the Huskies.
May 17 Date of the Pac-12 championships, when UW and Cal are expected to meet again.
“That is a really classy group that they have, and both teams row to a really high standard,” he said. “We have to keep fighting to be the best. That’s the nature of competition.”
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Cal, which handed UW’s varsity men its last defeat by a split second in the 2010 IRA grand finale, won Saturday in 5 minutes 38.8 seconds. UW finished in 5:41.4.
In good conditions (calm, low 50s), the schools split eight races. Cal also won the women’s varsity race. UW won both men’s and women’s second varsity eight races and men’s and women’s varsity fours.
Cal coach Mike Teti was modest in victory. “Our guys had a good day, and we’re happy about that,” he said. “But we know we have a bigger task ahead.”
Cal snapped an eight-year winning streak for UW in the varsity-eight dual. Four times UW has won eight straight varsity eight meetings in the Cal dual (2007-14, 1966-73, 1953-60 and 1919-26) but has yet to win nine straight. UW leads the all-time series 73-30-1.
After an even start, Cal’s varsity men built an untouchable lead in the second 500 meters of the 2,000-meter race.
“They took it away from us in the second 500,” Callahan said. “They countered with a couple of moves that we didn’t answer. We were losing chunks (of space) during their moves.”
Second-ranked UW and Cal will meet again May 17 in the Pac-12 championships and later in New Jersey for the IRA championships. The Huskies face the New Zealand national team in the Windermere Cup next Saturday.
“We just have to regroup, find out what kind of character we have,” Callahan said. “It’s not all about winning. It’s about getting better and putting out our best effort the next time we race.”
Can UW, ranked No. 2, beat Cal? “I would like to think so,” Callahan said. “I really believe in our guys. These two groups are very, very deep. We’re good, too. We’ve got over a month to go. It’s not over yet.”
UW women pick up wins
Women’s coach Bob Ernst was encouraged by an overall solid performance by his team’s three top boats. Despite losing by more than five seconds (6:24.5-6:29.8) in the varsity race, UW won the second varsity eight (6:30.2-6:32.7) and varsity four (7:13.2-7:18.9). At the NCAA championships in late May, all three boats factor into a team’s finish. Cal began the day ranked No. 2, UW No. 5.
“Their varsity has done that to everybody,” Ernst said of Cal’s five-second win. “It doesn’t look very good, and it’s kind of painful. But that’s not the whole game. We had a really successful day in winning the other two NCAA events.
“The NCAAs and conference championship are about team depth, and it’s going to be interesting to see if we can make our varsity boat go faster. With the youngsters we have in our boat, a varsity like Cal’s can make you look pretty bad in a hurry. But our team is deeper than it has been.
“We’ll see how much more development we can do in the next month and a half. This was an important stepping stone.”