The Stanford men’s and women’s crew teams ended their regular season competition on Saturday as they faced The Cal Bears. The No. 2 Stanford women took on the No. 3 Cal women, who had dubbed the name of the race “Team Jill” in four of the races.
Jill Costello, the coxswain for the Cal Women’s Crew, was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer; the most advanced form of the disease, shortly after the 2009 season ended. Despite 20 rounds of chemotherapy and 14 radiation treatments, she continued to compete on Cal's top boat, its varsity 8. She helped guide the Cal's varsity 8 to place fourth at the NCAA Championships on May 30, 2010, at Lake Natoma near Sacramento. Both teams, the Cardinals and Bears wore aquamarine Team Jill shirts with a sea foam green ribbon supporting Costello in last year’s Big Row.
"Jill and her parents, Jim and Mary, are in our and thoughts and hearts," said Stanford women’s rowing head coach Yasmin Farooq. "The Big Row is the perfect event for all of us to remember her and what she gave to our teams and the sport of rowing.”
Farooq added that the Stanford team will proudly wear the ribbon on behalf of Costello every year.
The Cardinal II Eight out-dueled a gritty race, its opposite number from California, crossing the line with a time of 6:35.0, just over two seconds ahead of the Golden Bears.
Stanford's other three boats at the event would not fare as well, though. The Four's final time of 7:35.3 was nearly six seconds behind's California's 7:29.6.
The Novice Eight finished almost 19 seconds behind California, which won the race in a time of 7:10.5.
In the day's main event between the rival I Eights, it was California that came out ahead with a time of 6:24.0. The time was four seconds ahead of Stanford's 6:24.0.
Stanford will return to action in two weeks at the Pac-10 Championships at Lake Natoma. The Cal Bears were presented with the Lambert Cup.
“We won three of the races and really focused on winning the last one, because this event was dedicated to Jill Costello,” Cal’s Women’s Rowing Coach Dave O Neill said.
Stanford rower Anne Levitsky said, “We’re unhappy about losing, of course. However, we felt that we were aggressive and that is what counts."
The two teams have raced multiple times and the Cal Bears have been victorious in the rivalry duel between the two in all of the competitions except in 2002 and 2009. The annual matchup was started in 1997.
Despite its school's losses, the Stanford band was there in all of it’s glory, in costume, dancing, while playing their songs.