Thursday, April 20, 2017

The 106th Cal-Washington Dual: The Top Teams in Men's and Women's Collegiate Rowing Face off in Seattle

Rowing through the Montlake Cut (Photo: RR)

The 2017 Cal-UW Dual might be the best one ever. And that's really not an overstatement. Don't believe it?

Read on.

The Women

These perennial rivals, both from the strongest conference in NCAA Rowing if you go by the number of teams selected for the championships each year, have arguably never been better. California is coming off a national title—a fantastic result in just the second year of Al Acosta's tenure as head coach—and they're not looking like they've gotten any slower heading into the 2017 championship season. Meanwhile, Yaz Farooq has stormed into Seattle in her first year taking the reins up North, pushing the Huskies to a No. 1 overall ranking according to the most recent CRCA Coaches' Poll.

And speaking of polls, according to Washington Athletics, this year marks the first-ever Dual where all four teams enter as either No. 1 or No. 2 in the country. Here's a closer look at the crews.

Note: we can't know all the exact lineups at time of writing, so in some places we are making assumptions based on previous boatings.

The Varsity Eight

Huskies
Washington stroke Carmela Pappalardo is a Freshman from Italy who won a silver medal at U23 worlds this past summer in the BW2-, and has been on three Italian junior national teams and two U23 teams. Phoebe Spoors is a senior from New Zealand and the most veteran of the Husky oarswomen in the varsity eight, having rowed four years in the crew.

They're backed up by a trio of sophomores and former U.S. junior national team members in Elise Beuke (broke 7 minutes on the erg in high school), Marlee Blue and Katy Gillingham. We are willing to bet Beuke and Blue have a future on the U23 national team before their Husky careers are finished.

Golden Bears
The varsity eight has been stroked by GB U23 national team Rowan McKellar—a senior at Cal who was the seven seat in the Bears' varsity crew last year. Though not necessarily the most powerful on the erg, she rows with beautiful length and rhythm, and certainly has enough juice to get the job done.

Sophomore Sydney Payne and former Canadian junior national teamer brings great power to the stern of the boat having been in the Cal second varsity eight that won the NCAA Championship as a freshman.

Former German junior and U23 national team member, junior Doro Beckendorff also brings great experience from last year's varsity boat, while Norwegian senior Inger Kavlie is the most veteran and arguably best all around rower that has spent her entire career in the 1V, possessive of a great blend of fitness and experience.

This is where we give the Bears the edge: Sophomore Dana Moffatt and Juliane Faralisch—Faralisch was a member of the German under-23 team the past two summers and went 6:35 for 2k on the erg this past July before ever setting foot on the Cal campus. Dana Moffatt, a sophomore and former Crash-B and junior world champion, joins Faralisch in the engine room of the Cal varsity eight. This may be the strongest pair in the NCAA.

Junior and U23 world champ Mia Croonquist also brings a level of talent and experience that help make Cal the favorite this weekend in our minds.

The Second Varsity Eight

Huskies
The Husky 2V8 will feature a blend of talented young internationals with tried and true Husky walk-on rowers. German sisters Calina Schanze (a sophomore) and freshman Annemieke Schanze both have junior national team experience and raced in the bow pair of the second varsity eight the last time out.

They will likely be joined by a couple Italians: Sophomore Chiara Ondoli and freshman Valentina Iseppi, who have both raced at the World Junior and Under 23 Championships (Ondoli has also competed at senior worlds).

German freshman Tabea Schendekehl brings an impressive international resume to the Huskies, while former walk-ons Maggie Phillips, Jessica Thoennes and team captain Valerie Vogt will bring an upperclass presence and experience to the boat. We won't be surprised to see one or two of these athletes getting a shot at the 1V this week after impressive performances earlier in the season.

Golden Bears
Similar to the UW 2V, we are expecting to see a very strong group of young international talent in this event. If she is not rowing in the varsity eight this weekend, we expect former German junior national team member Charlotte Wesselmann to be stroking the Bears' second varsity eight. She is not the biggest or strongest athlete, but she has great power per pound and is an aggressive competitor that really makes a difference in the stroke seat.

Former Syracuse transfer and ACC Freshman of the Year Julia Vander Hoeven is also a great all-around athlete with a high level of skill and good power per pound—she has also been battling back and forth between the two varsity eights and we expect her to be a key contributor to one of the boats this weekend.

German freshman Bea Bliemel, Australian sophomore Ellie Howe (whose sister is arguably the best athlete in the Princeton varsity eight) has moved up to the 2V after leading the V4 to the NCAA title in 2016, and Australian freshman Chloe Betts, and Maddison Brown appear to be making an immediate impact in their first year. This crew will also likely feature Americans Ellen Heile and Hunter Deuel, who both boast impressive power on the erg.

We are again going to give Cal the edge in this event.

The Varsity Four

Huskies
We expect this boat to be led by British athletes Anouschka Fenley and Anna Thornton, and it will likely include some combination of former US junior national team member Kadie Brown and NCAA silver medalist in this event, US Paralympian Danielle Hansen, Sara Clark, Brooke Mooney and Julia Paulsen.

Golden Bears
Both of these teams have great depth and have put out a number of different fours combinations so far this season, but we expect the key players for Cal to include some combination of Australian Tara O'Reilly (whose brothers row for Yale), Sam Lamos, Alex Floyd, Katherine Armstrong and two time American junior national teamer Kai Marchak.

Both of these crews have gone under 7 minutes already this Spring and look to be some of the fastest combinations in this event in the history of the NCAA.

That said, the Huskies are our favorite to win the four this weekend.



The Men

Make no mistake: These boats are stacked. Not only are there a host of athletes with U23 experience in both crews, but Cal's Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk just got finished with a very solid performance at his first Olympics, representing Poland in the men's single. Mike Teti's squad is just as deep as it has been over the last several seasons, but with perhaps more firepower even than last year's IRA-winning varsity eight at the top end.

Meanwhile, Mike Callahan's Huskies have been quietly beginning to make some waves in the early season—their comparative time last weekend at Redwood Shores was 0.20 of a second faster than Cal on the same course within minutes of the Bears' run against Wisconsin.

The Varsity Eight

Huskies
The Washington men's varsity eight has a ton of power, but also a huge upside—you don't have to look any further than four seat Arne Landboe to see what we're getting at there. Landboe (6'9" and 220 lbs) is a former kayaker and swimmer, and we can confidently say is likely sub 5:50 for 2k right now (and a guy that we think Dave O'Neill might really like this summer when putting together the U.S. U23 team).

Meanwhile, in stroke seat is the guy who broke the mould—German international Philipp Nonnast, we believe, not only became the first freshman to row in the varsity eight at Washington (formerly, the frosh would always compete at the frosh level), but also stroked the top boat for the Huskies at both Pac-12s and IRAs last year. So, yeah, he's pretty good—we're going to call him the UW rowing Markelle Fultz.

But he's far from the extent of the international talent in this crew. Six seat Simon Van Drop is a 6'8" Dutch oarsman who won junior worlds in the eight in 2015, and backed that up with a U23 gold (also in the eight) for the Netherlands last year. Sitting right behind him is Serbian standout Viktor Pivac, a medalist at both the U23 and senior levels (most recently winning the men's pair at U23s along with his counterpart in the Cal men's varsity eight, Martin Mackovic—of him, more later).

Add in U.S. U23 and senior national teamer Ben Davison in the bow seat, and you're in pretty good shape.

Golden Bears
So we already name dropped Wegrzycki-Szymczyk, and for good reason, but the supporting cast behind the Polish Olympian at stroke is flat-out outstanding (hey, they won it all last year, didn't they?). In other words, UW isn't going to be the only one with multiple athletes going 5:50 or faster.

Also, Mackovic and Pivac aren't the only ones who are teammates during the summer—Cal six seat Maarten Hurkmans (6'7" and 215 lbs) was in that same U23 gold medal-winning Dutch men's eight with Van Dorp last year. Sitting right behind him is Mackovic, who posted a 5:55 to Instagram last year (but we're betting that he might just be eating at Burger King if he's posting that score this season).

Another international battling to be in the varsity eight for the second straight year is Austrian Ferdi(nand) Querfeld, who is coming off a golden 2016, winning Pac-12s and IRAs with Cal in the varsity last year, and then capping off the season with a win in the men's straight four at U23 worlds. Plus, his fellow Golden Bear Christoph Seifriedsberger (he of the 1:38.2 hour of power last year) was in that same crew at worlds—now, he's in a freshman in the varsity eight at Cal. And in the two seat thus far in 2017 has been California native Kyle Flagg, who raced with the U.S. U23 team last year in Rotterdam.

While this race is likely too close to call, we're going to call it anyway because that's what we do—we're giving a slight edge to Washington here on their home course.

The Second Varsity Eight

Huskies
It looks like Bram Schwartz of the Netherlands (2015 junior world champ in the eight) is picking up where Nonnast left off last year—Schwartz, a freshman, is currently stroking the second varsity eight, backed up by Washington native Evan Olson (2016 IRA champion in the UW frosh eight) in the seven seat. But Olson isn't the only native of the Pacific Northwest in the JV crew—fellow Washingtonians Madison Molitor and Tennyson Federspiel are bringing youth and power to the engine room, alongside senior Jake Zier, who might not be the smoothest of oarsmen at times, but who goes full beast mode and does pretty nice work for UW in the three seat.

Golden Bears
Whoever won his seat race last weekend at the Stanford Invitational between Querfeld and Jack Gosden-Kaye (Great Britain) will likely be in the varsity eight, and the other stroking this second varsity boat. Sophomore Marcin Pawlowski brings great size and experience to the boat having represented Poland at two junior world championships and three U23 world champs. Sophomore Hunter Hodges will be back on his home turf in Seattle this weekend where he set the American Record for 6k in Fall of 2014 (when he went 19:33.4 as a high school senior). Fellow American senior Justin Murphy also boasts an impressive resume having raced at the junior worlds twice and Under 23s not once, not twice, but thrice!

The Cal 2V will also likely feature Australians sophomore Sam Horsley and freshman Hamish McDonald as well as German sophomore Leon Ramm and Canadian sophomore Elliot Rogers.

Again, we're expecting another hard fought contest, but we're taking the Golden Bears to win this event.

The Third Varsity Eight

Huskies
Stern pair Eric Benca and Oscar Goldberg were in the U.S. coxed four that was sixth in the A final at the 2015 Under 23 World Championships.

Italian Pietro Zileri Dal Verme has raced at two Junior World Championships and three Under 23 Worlds.

Former U.S. junior national team member Luke Khoury and Australian junior national teamer Max Rennie will be holding down the bow pair.

And that's in the third varsity eight. Sheesh.

Golden Bears
This crew will likely be stroked by Australian junior Mark Brinker and feature fellow Australians James Riley and Jack Cleary, the latter of whom has competed for Australia at both junior and Under-23 worlds. Americans Alex Lilichenko, Bennett Stahl and Ben Orem will likely provide strong support for Brinker in the stern of the boat.

Given the level of international racing experience in the Husky 3V, we're taking them to win this contest, but Cal's depth is also outstanding—it's going to be an amazing weekend of racing.

--

Nuts and bolts: Information via gohuskies.com


CAL DUAL FULL SCHEDULE

April 22, 2017

9:00 AM: Women's V4+
9:12 AM: Women's 3V8+ (plus UW Freshman 8+)
9:24 AM: Men's 3V8+ (plus UW 4V8+)
9:36 AM: Men's Freshman 8+
Row Back: 9:45-10:05 AM
10:10 AM: Women's 2V8+
10:22 AM: Men's 2V8+
10:34 AM: Women's V8+
10:50 AM: Men's V8+

LIVE STREAM AND OTHER COVERAGE
In partnering with the Pac-12 Networks, the entire Cal Dual will be broadcast live on Twitter, as well as the Husky Live Stream. Live results can be found on HereNow.com and will be posted on Twitter (@UW_Rowing) throughout the morning.

BRUNCH GARDEN
At the north side finish line (grandstands area) of the Cal Dual races, Washington Rowing will host its first ever "Cal Dual Brunch Garden" beginning a half hour before the races start. It is open to all friends, alums and parents, and will feature snacks and a cash bar serving mimosas and more. This will be a great place to meet up with friends and watch the Huskies race the Bears on the Cut!

RACE VIEWING
Fans are encouraged to #PackTheCut to watch the Cal Dual from the Canoe House at the east end of the Montlake Cut, from the Montlake Bridge or at the finish line at the west end of the Cut. More information available here.

-RR

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