Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Badger rowers dominate annual home-water regatta

As the sun rose Saturday morning on the shallow waters of Lake Wingra, the Wisconsin crew team kicked off the 32nd annual Midwest Rowing Championships.

The No. 5-ranked men’s, No. 13-ranked women’s openweight and No. 3-ranked women’s lightweight teams, together comprising the program known around the rowing community as “Wisco,” welcomed 26 university and club programs to Madison to compete in the regatta.

The day featured 165 boats and nearly 10 hours of races in 27 total events.


Wisconsin rowing consistently proves somewhat of an anomaly, cranking out highly ranked boats year after year in a sport otherwise dominated by the elites of the East and West Coasts. For this reason, competition with other Midwest crew teams often produces slanted results.

This year’s event proved to be no exception. On the water it was all Red.

In the men’s varsity eights final, the first and second UW boats battled for the opening stretch before the main boat pulled ahead and captured a buffer of open water. On the 1850-meter course, the first boat clocked in at 6:01.30 with the two-boat finishing second at 6:11.39. Third place went to North Park, who crossed the finish line a healthy 51.4 seconds behind the Badgers.

“We didn’t want to back off because we were killing everyone,” senior coxswain Mike Lucey said. “We haven’t gotten to sprint yet, so we just opened it up.”

Staying in contact with the Badger elites for a significant part of the race, the performance of the second men’s eight boat revealed some improvement since its opening race against Michigan.

“I think they’re doing really well,” Lucey said. “They got four or five guys in there who could be (starting) varsity oarsmen in any other program. As long as they keep at it, they’re good.”

In a fashion equally convincing, the women’s openweight team claimed the eights final with a time of 6:59.35 over second-place Drake at 7:26.57.

The women’s lightweight squad took its eights race by a margin of almost a minute and a half over second-place Miami of Ohio.

“Wisco” also dominated the openweight fours. In the women’s final, all three coxed Badger quartets finished ahead of visitors Drake, North Park and Kansas.

The finals of the men’s fours wrapped up with Wisconsin B finishing with an impressive 6:42.40, followed by Wisconsin A at 6:45.16, Wisconsin C at 6:56.48 and Wisconsin D at 7:02.18. Fifth-place Kansas finished 40 seconds after the last UW boat.

Regardless of the final results, however, the competition provided the weaker visiting crews with opportunities to improve their performance.

“I admire some of those teams for even giving it a shot,” UW head coach Chris Clark said. “I think it’s smart that they come here. You always want to go up against one of the faster ones, and you can measure yourself against it.”

In addition to the UW boats, the visiting rowers also battled the elements. With intense winds coming out of the east, the sheltering effect normally provided by the UW Arboretum was completely negated. The wind conditions combined with the shallow waters at the west end of the lake to create a rough opening stretch. The first 500 meters proved difficult to navigate even for veteran crews.

“In parts of the race there’s a cross wind coming at you that just shifts the whole boat,” Lucey said. “The slightest adjustment with the steering can pull the boat down to one side, so it’s pretty tough. I had to stay on that the whole time.”

For the younger and more inexperienced coxswains on the lake, the difficult conditions bred chaos. Several novice and junior boats collided early in their heats, resulting in persistent delays and at least one overturn.

“There was more than one tangle-up,” Clark said. “You’ve got a lot of the novice boats out there, and they can’t keep it straight. Of course the water there is about three feet deep, so it’s not very dangerous. Any regatta that we can do here that isn’t cancelled or severely affected by weather I consider a great success.”

While the difficult waters didn’t cause the Badgers any finals defeats, it prevented the men’s crew from making any realistic attempt at breaking the course record of 5:14.40 set last year by Wisconsin at the regatta.

“Breaking the course record is always fun,” Clark said. “But in a 14-mile-per-hour headwind, forget about it.”

Temperatures for the event broke into the low 50s after a 37-degree start and then dropped again into the 40s by the final eights. The sun shone for all opening heats before skies became overcast in the early afternoon.

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