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With Men's Rowing IRA Victory, Cal Men Earn Back-to-Back Aquatic Sports Sweep

June 4, 2023

WEST WINDSOR, N.J., – The No. 1 California Golden Bears repeated as Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) national champions, as the varsity eight won its grand final at Mercer Lake on Sunday morning. The title marks the 19th for the program, second for Cal head coach Scott Frandsen (’22, ’23), and is the 103rd all-time national championship for Cal Athletics. In addition, the Bears swept trophies in all four events for the first time in program history on their way to winning the James Ten Eyck Memorial Trophy - given to the overall team points winner - for the first time since 2016. Cal finished with 288 points, a perfect Ten Eyck score.

It also marked the first time Cal has won consecutive national titles since winning four in a row from 1999-02.

“What an amazing day and week for the team,” Frandsen said. “For the last couple years, the main idea has been to build the best and the deepest team that we possibly can. And what a statement to that today. To have every boat win, that's a credit to all the guys that raced today. And when the pressure was on and they needed their best race, every single boat put it together. It's also a credit to the 25 or so guys that are back on campus or at home that aren't here. They've been pushing that depth all the way up through the team, so this is just an amazing day for the crews that raced and a statement for the team as a whole.”

In the race for the Varsity Challenge Cup, Cal was out front early and took a two-seat lead over Yale by 500 meters. By the halfway mark, the Bears’ lead quickly grew to almost a full length over Washington, who pushed into second place. Cal continued to push and generate a slight open-water lead in the final 750 meters, but Washington walked back a few seats. In the end, the Bears’ pace proved to be too strong and they were able to finish just over a second ahead of the Huskies in 05:31.716 to secure the national championship.

“The varsity eight, they’re the big show and the group I was most confident in. They are a special group,” Frandsen said. It's been such an honor and a privilege to be coaching and guiding them. But there was such confidence in that crew that no matter what happened throughout the race, they took control, they pushed it out. They came together on their moves and took control of the race. In that third 500 meters and entering the fourth 500 meters, when Washington moved back on them, they very clearly together, pushed back and decided that they were going to win the race. We talked before about in that moment of a question being asked, we have to be the tougher and more together crew. And I think they really went and did that. I’m so proud of them and proud of the whole team.”

In the battle for the Kennedy Challenge Cup, Cal’s second varsity got off to a strong start and didn’t look back. The Bears took a half-boat lead in the opening 250 meters, extended it to a full length by 500 meters and maintained their distance by 1,000 meters. Cal didn’t let up and give anyone a chance to come up, and was able to control the whole race, finishing three seconds over Washington in a time of 5:39.600.

“The second varsity just had an absolutely perfect race,” Frandsen said. “They shot out quickly and dominated from early on and just controlled the race completely. I’m really proud of those guys for performing again under pressure. Just so happy for everybody in that boat. There are some guys like Fred Roper, Elliot Kemp and Balthasar Issa that have been working towards that for three or four years, and for them to get that result in their last race for Cal, it just doesn't get any better than that.”

In the race for the Steward Cup, the Bears’ third varsity came through in exhilarating fashion. The race was fairly even off the start, but Cal and Washington took an early lead ahead of the pack by the 500-meter mark. The Bears took a three-seat advantage on the Huskies over the second 500 meters. Harvard then made a push to move up to second place in the third 500 meters and was just four seats back of Cal. The Bears maintained their lead with 750 meters to go, but Harvard made another surge to pull even with 500 meters remaining. It was anyone’s race at that point, but Cal made a strong push in the last 10 strokes to hold on for the win, less than a second over Harvard, in 5:42.220.

“For the third varsity, it was all about building each time we went out and to raise the bar,” Cal assistant coach Brandon Shald said. “Throughout the season, each day was a little better and I just preached to the boys that it’s about max effort on the last day. It’s like a fireworks show for the season and this was the grand finale. All season we raced the first 1,000 meters with focus on power and rhythm, so that we have an opportunity to race the last 1,000 and say it’s time to go.  I think they did everything they needed to on the day. It was the first time that we had, start to finish, exactly what we needed on the day, and I think the result shows that.”

The Bears’ varsity four won the Eric Will Trophy on Saturday.

Cal By The Numbers

103 – Total national championships for Cal Athletics

19 – IRA national championships

17 – Men’s rowing Pac-12 championships

3 – IRA national championships under Scott Frandsen

3 – James Ten Eyck Memorial Trophies


V8+ Grand Final

1. California - 05:31.716

2. Washington - 05:32.960

3. Princeton - 05:34.882

4. Yale - 05:36.954

5. Syracuse - 05:38.172

6. Northeastern - 05:43.180

2V8+ Grand Final

1. California - 05:39.600

2. Washington - 05:42.070

3. Yale - 05:42.310

4. Harvard - 05:45.410

5. Dartmouth - 05:48.870

6. Brown - 05:50.790

3V8+ Grand Final

1. California - 05:42.220

2. Harvard - 05:42.600

3. Washington - 05:47.130

4. Dartmouth – 5:50.390

5. Yale - 05:52.210

6. Brown - 05:54.540

V4+ Grand Final (from Saturday)

1. California - 07:04.781

2. Temple - 07:06.789

3. Dartmouth - 07:07.869

4. FIT - 07:09.011

5. Navy - 07:11.161

6. Northeastern - 07:21.413



Coxswain - Luca Vieira

Stroke - Iwan Hadfield

7 - Angus Dawson

6 - Tim Roth

5 - Ollie Maclean

4 - Gennaro di Mauro

3 - Gus Rodriguez

2 - Frederik Breuer

Bow - Campbell Crouch


Coxswain - Iliad Izadi

Stroke - Tommy Barrell

7 - Elliott Kemp

6 - Tobias Kristensen

5 - Fred Roper

4 - Balthasar Issa

3 - Matthew Gallagher

2 - Daton Wolfaardt

Bow - Wilson Morton


Coxswain - Ethan Nghiem

Stroke - Dan Bradbery

7 - Keith Ryan

6 - Alex Baroni

5 - Matthew Waddell

4 - Thomas Heerding

3 - Luciano Andreuccetti

2 - Tyler Kurth

Bow - Pablo Moreno


Coxswain - Savannah Adamo

4 - Bret Holt

3 - Harry Manton

2 - Henry Furrer

1 - Joshua Anderson

Discussion from...

With Men's Rowing IRA Victory, Cal Men Earn Back-to-Back Aquatic Sports Sweep

2,712 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by DiabloWags
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Congratulations to our rowers who endure a grueling workout regimen in maybe the least spectated men's sport. They've come a long way since I was in school, when press gangs of coaches and rowers would stalk the registration lines at Harmon (you'd have to be old to have experienced that) looking for tall, sturdy (but not bulky) young men to fill the shells.
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Is it considered racist to acknowledge their success?
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Crew, Swimming, and Water Polo.

Go Bears!

"Cults don't end well. They really don't."
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