Wisconsin womens rowing team

SAN DIEGO  The No. 13 Wisconsin women’s rowing team completed the opening weekend of the spring season on Sunday, finishing just seconds off the podium in both the varsity eight and second varsity eight races at the San Diego Crew Classic.

In the Jessop-Whittier Cup grand final, UW’s varsity eight boat placed fourth, just five seconds behind No. 2 Cal, which took home first place. Wisconsin’s second varsity eight boat finished fifth, a matter of two seconds from third place Southern Cal.

“It was a really good weekend, and it was a good day today even though we were hoping for a little bit better results,” Wisconsin head coach Bebe Bryans said. “I think our lack of experience on the water came and bit us a little bit.”

On the heels of winning its heat in the Jessop-Whittier Cup prelims on Saturday, Wisconsin set itself up with a first lane start in the grand final on Sunday. Battling less than ideal weather conditions, UW finished the 2000-meter course in 6:54.772, a little more than six seconds slower than its finish from Saturday.

Cal won the Jessop-Whittier Cup Grand Final in a time of 6:49.468, while No. 9 Texas and No. 14 USC finished second and third, respectively.

After the second-fastest time among 20 boats on Saturday, the second varsity eight finished fifth in its grand final on Sunday in a time of 7:09.691.

Cal lived up to its billing as the second-ranked team in the country by completing the sweep of the top spots with a 6:53.673 finish in thesecond varsity eight grand final. Texas came in second in a time of 6:57.600, while USC was a distant third in 7:07.076.

“It was pretty windy, pretty rough, and even though we had good lanes, it’s definitely something we’re going to be looking forward to improving going forward,” Bryans said.

Although Bryans wasn’t satisfied with the finishes in the grand finals on Sunday, the first races of the season allowed Wisconsin a chance to race against some of the top teams in the country, serving as a valuable learning experience.

UW raced against six other ranked teams in the Jessop-Whittier Cup grand final, including three teams ranked ahead of it, while the second varsity eight competed against five ranked schools in its six-boat grand final.

“It was a really great effort from both boats and great racing. It was a good weekend to get started with,” Bryans said. “We learned a ton, and we’re looking to next week and the week after seeing some of these crews again.”

Wisconsin opens Big Ten competition next weekend with a trip to Iowa City for a double dual with Iowa and Indiana.