After putting on a dominant performance in 2014 at the annual Big Row, in which all three top women’s rowing boats sealed the deal over Cal, the Cardinal headed into that season’s Pac-12 Championships on a high.
This year, however, the team enters the Pac-12s on the tail of narrow losses to the No. 2 Golden Bears at Redwood Shores last weekend; however, the team is proud of its competitive showing over one of the top-ranked teams in the nation.
“The racing was fast today. We gave it our all and Cal was the better team. We’ll look forward to seeing them again in two weeks,” said Stanford’s head coach Yasmin Farooq.
Those two weeks have passed, and the time to race them again is on the horizon as No. 6 Stanford gears up for the conference championships on Sunday.
In addition, they have captured impressive wins over No. 2 Virginia and No. 8 Washington.
Last year the Cardinal surprised the field by capturing their first ever Pac-12 Championship, winning the varsity four, 2V8 and varsity eight races to run away with the title.
The No. 1 Stanford lightweight team is expected to continue another successful season this weekend at the PCRC Championships on the heels of a victory over Cal’s 3V8 openweight team at Big Row — setting a new course record in the process — and a scorching showing at the WIRA Championships two and half weeks ago, taking home trophies in the variety eight, 2V8 and novice races. The Cardinal lightweights are 8-0 in their races in 2015.
The Big Row is supposed to bridge the competitive gap between the two rival schools as it honors former Cal coxswain Jill Costello, who lost her battle with cancer. This year the competition further emphasized the melding of the two schools, as Cal’s head coach is former Stanford lightweight head coach Al Acosta. The first-year head coach for the Golden Bears led the Cardinal lightweight program to four IRA National Championships in his last five years on the Farm.
The Cardinal beat the Cal openweights by two boat lengths, scorching the Bears by nearly 13 seconds and setting a team course record with a time of 6:37.4. It was the team’s second-fastest time of the year.
The Cardinal gear up for the PCRC Championships with three WIRA honors among their boats. Katherine Christel, Jackie Huddle and Blaire Hunter were each named to All-WIRA teams after their dominant performances at the WIRA Championships. This weekend will be the final tune-up for the Cardinal before competing in the pinnacle rowing event of the season, the IRA National Championships.
No. 1 Cal was too much for then-No. 12 Stanford men’s rowing team at the 82nd Big Row as the Bears won by open water in all three races.
“Cal clearly proved why they are ranked No. 1,” said Stanford head coach Craig Amerkhanian. “They raced at the highest level we have seen here in years. We knew they would be tough going in and we could have raced better, but credit to them for having a great day.”
The varsity eight had competed in four straight races prior to taking on the nation’s top team but have had two weeks to prepare for their next meeting with the Bears at this weekend’s Pac-12 Championships.
The Cardinal will aim to at least match their fourth-place performance at last year’s conference championships, with the varsity eight earning a bronze medal and the 2V8 and frosh eight placing fourth, while the varsity four took fifth.
After competing in the U-23 World Championships each of the last two years, senior captain Kaess Smit was again chosen for the U.S. Men’s Under-23 National Team Selection Camp. Sophomores Ryan Hails and Ryan O’Rourke are among the eight men announced to the waitlist for the selection camp.
All three Stanford rowing teams compete in their respective championships this Sunday.
Contact Ashley Westhem at awesthem ‘at’ stanford.edu.