This weekend's Big Ten championship is what the UW women's rowing team has been training all season for, and not just because a conference crown was one of head coach Bebe Bryans' preseason goals.
"Our season has been interesting and challenging in that we've only raced once before this championship, so we've trained probably 100,000 hours for one race so far," Bryans said at a press conference Monday.
Although Bryans says Wisconsin is probably the only team in the nation having raced in only one competition so far, she believes the team has responded very well.
The Badgers have trained the same way this season they always have; it's just a different way of looking at things with the schedule they were handed.
"We could look at it as a detriment, or we can look at it at, we are the stealth crew," Bryans said. "No one really knows what we're going to do. Except us, and we have a pretty good idea."
But other people do seem to know what the Badgers are going to do, and it looks pretty good. Wisconsin enters Saturday's competition as the top seed in two of the five events — the second varsity four and the novice eight.
In both varsity eights, the Badgers are seeded fifth. In the first varsity four, they are seeded fourth.
"This is an extraordinary team that I'm really proud of top to bottom," Bryans said. "They're pretty young … so they're having to really learn on the fly and take every practice as if it's a racing situation. We're trying hard to set them up for that."
Wisconsin, which finished fifth place in last year's competition, will try to live up to its No. 1 seed in front of a home crowd at Madison's Lake Wingra.
Seven teams — Iowa, Indiana, Ohio State, Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin — will compete in the Big Ten championship, as the event returns to the site of the inaugural event in 2000.
"We're really thrilled and pleased to be hosting," Bryans said. "We were the first host of the Big Ten Championship seven years ago, so it's come full circle, and we're looking forward to starting this next round really positively with a great event."
Since 2000, only three different teams have won the Big Ten Championship title — Michigan (four), Ohio State (two) and Michigan State (one). However, a new team may be crowned this year.
Based on the seeding, No. 8 Minnesota is the favorite. Still, the past champions aren't too far behind as Ohio State comes into the competition as the third-ranked team in the country. Also, Michigan and Michigan State are ranked 12th and 19th, respectively.
Although the Badgers may be underdogs this weekend, they are just simply excited to get out and race for their second competition of the year.
"We're really excited," Bryans said. "We're really excited to get to race people and to see where we stack up, so we can't wait.
"We're just ready to come out and go, you know, blazes on Saturday."
Lightweights ranked No. 1
After winning its third-straight IRA National Championship, UW's lightweight rowing team earned the top ranking in the country Tuesday.
The lightweight team travels to Indianapolis this weekend to compete in a double dual meet at the Eagle Creek Reservoir.