National Championship or Bust: Cal Men's Rowing races for a repeat IRA crown
Cal Men's Rowing and a large group of Cal Track and Field athletes will be the last active Cal Athletics student-athletes of the 2022-23 school year
No.1 Cal Men’s Rowing at IRA Championships
Following the successful repeat national championships bids of Cal Men’s Water Polo and Cal Men’s Swimming and Diving this school year, Cal Men’s Rowing will race for their own repeat national championship this weekend from New Jersey.
No.1 Cal is the favorite to repeat and bring back a 103rd Team National Championship in school history to Berkeley. Cal Men’s Rowing won that historic 100th title a year ago when the Varsity 8+ boat crossed the finish line first. That entire boat has returned and upgraded with the addition of a graduate transfer. Cal’s other boats (2V8+, 3V8+, and V4+) have also improved to give Cal the best chance at the Ten Eyck trophy for the best program at the IRA Championships from the combined results of all V8 boats.
The entire IRA Championships are streamed for free on YouTube (the same link also works for replay). Inclement East Coast (New Jersey) weather means the likelihood of the V8+ final race being rescheduled for Sunday's (June 4th) first available weather opening is always plausible.
The Cal Varsity 8 boat already got two "Calympians" in Gennaro Di Mauro (Italy's single scull) and Angus Dawson (Australian eights) who competed in the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Ollie Maclean also got to travel to Tokyo as an alternate on the New Zealand team. The graduate transfer from Brown, Gus Rodriguez (USA), as well as boatmate Tim Roth (Switzerland) have also represented their countries at the World Championships last year. The chance is great that more than half of this boat will become "Calympian" at some point, as soon as Paris 2024 next year.
Cal's V8+ and 2V8+ boats both won their initial heat and then semifinal on Friday and Saturday, respectively, to advance to the Grand Finals on Sunday. Cal's 3V8+ boat won the Friday heat before taking 2nd place in Saturday's semifinal to also advance to the Grand Final of that race. On Saturday, Cal's V4+ boat already claimed the national title for that event by defeating Temple and Dartmouth.
The Sunday schedule (barring changes due to the weather) is:
3rd Varsity 8+ Grand Final 6:04 AM PT
2nd Varsity 8+ Grand Final 6:28 AM PT
Varsity 8+ Grand Final 7:08 AM PT
ROW ON YOU BEARS!
Record number of Cal Bears to compete at NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Austin (June 7-10)
Cal's hiring of Robyne Johnson as the director of Cal Track and Field program 4-years ago bucked the trend of hiring mostly Cal alum (Walter Chun in Men's Golf, Scott Frandsen in Men's Rowing, Chelsea Spencer in Softball) or previous Cal associate coach (Mike Neu in Baseball, Sam Crosson in Volleyball, Leonard Griffin in Men's Soccer) in the Cal Olympic Sports. Slowly but surely, Cal has increased the program's presence at the Track and Field National Championships, particularly in the throwing and field events. Even with their current home Edwards Stadium on campus doomed to be torn down at some point (who knows when with the UC bureaucracy) under the deal between campus and Cal Athletics to assume the debt from the Memorial Stadium retrofit, Cal Track and Field is improving.
At the NCAA West Preliminary meet held at Sacramento last weekend, Cal Track and Field earned NCAA qualification in 12 events by placing in the top-12 of those events. They join Hakim McMorris who had already qualified for decathlon before the meet. With one of those events being a relay, a total of 17 Golden Bears, including one alternate for the relay, will travel to Austin, Texas next week and compete for individual NCAA national championships.
A record number of 36 Golden Bears earned spots in the NCAA West Preliminary. The following list of Cal student-athletes earned their spots for the NCAA Championships.
Cal's 2023 NCAA Outdoor Championships Qualifiers
Men's 1500m: Garrett MacQuiddy
Men's Pole Vault: Skyler Magula
Men's Shot Put: Jeff Duensing
Men's Hammer: Ivar Moisander
Men's Discus: Mykolas Alekna
Men's Decathlon: Hakim McMorris
Women's 100m Hurdles: Jada Hicks
Women's 4x100m Relay: Jada Hicks, Jordyn Grady, Makhaila Mills, Aysha Shaheed, Ryan Lacefield (alternate)
Women's Pole Vault: Amari Turner
Women's Long Jump: Ijeoma Uche
Women's Triple Jump: Asha Fletcher
Women's Hammer: Anna Purchase, Audrey Jacobs
Women's Javelin: Carolina Visca
Sophomore Mykola Alekna is the best bet to win an individual national title and continue the streak of at least one Cal title started by the recently graduated Camryn Rogers who closed her career with three straight NCAA Women's Hammer Throw crowns. Alekna owns the collegiate record. He fell a bit short at the NCAA last year by placing 2nd but should surprise no one if he shatters his own collegiate men's discus record in Austin.
Alekna set the collegiate record 68.73m (225-6) last year at the Pac-12 Championships last year. At the Big Meet this year, he shattered that record with a throw of 71.00m (232-11). At the NCAA West Prelim, Alekna won with a throw of 67.75m (222-3).
Also in the mix for an NCAA title is senior Women's Hammer thrower Anna Purchase. The UK -native Purchase had the best throw in the country for the bulk of the year after the Big Meet (73.02m (239-6)). She replicated a better than 70m throw at the NCAA West Prelim, but Harvard's Stephanie Ratcliffe (who represents Australia internationally) got the best collegiate throw at the NCAA East Prelim this past week. Purchase will be joined by freshman Audrey Jacobs (from the Netherlands) in Austin as Jacobs placed 8th.
In other throwing events, Cal freshman Carolina Visca (Italy) rewrote the Cal school record and placed 9th in javelin. Ivar Moisander (Sweden) in men's hammer will return to the NCAA Outdoor championship for the second straight year. Jeff Duensing (USA) will compete in men's shot put. Both Moisander and Duensing earned their spots by placing 7th.
In the field, Cal will have representatives in both the men's and women's pole vault. Skyler Magula (USA), a 2023 Pac-12 champion, also earned a trip to Austin by being tied for 2nd in men's pole vault. Amari Turner (USA) advanced in women's pole vault by placing 4th. Cal will also have representatives in women's long jump (8th place) in Ijeoma Uche (USA) and women's triple jump (11th place) Asha Fletcher (USA). Turner, Uche, and Fletcher are all seniors.
In the running events, Cal will have Garrett MacQuiddy (USA) in Men's 1500m. Jada Hicks earned a spot in Women's 100m Hurdles by placing 9th. Hicks will also compete in Women's 4x100m Relay (another 9th place finish) with Jordyn Grady, Makhaila Mills, and Aysha Shaheed.
Best of luck to all of the Cal Bears!