For the first time in 18 years, Wisconsin mens rowing can call
itself national champions. Wisconsins varsity eight defeated No. 1
Washington and the rest of the field to win the 2008 Intercollegiate
Rowing Association National Championships for the first time since
1990. Racing took place Saturday over 2000 meters on the Cooper River
in Camden, N.J.
A heat wave enveloping the East Coast forced a
compressed final day of racing at the three-day event to avoid the
hottest portion of the day. With the race moved up to 12:24 p.m. CT,
the Badgers waited about three hours less than scheduled to win the
The No. 2 Badgers clocked a 5:31.173 to upset No.
1 Washington by just over 1.5 seconds. The previously undefeated
Huskies timed a 5:32.894 to take the silver medal. California took the
bronze well behind the top-two crews in 5:39.021. Rounding out the
places in the Grand Final were fourth-place Northeastern (5:42.399),
fifth-place Stanford (5:43.324) and sixth-place Columbia (5:44.565).
was real exciting, said head coach Chris Clark. Very, very exciting.
Ive coached for a long time and weve had a lot of wins both here at
Wisconsin and internationally and a lot of success, but we hadnt
cracked this nut at the IRA championships. It is a matter of faith on
their part. You get that belief, you get the effort, you get the
execution combined with talent and that is what we had. It all comes
together and works perfectly and you saw the result today.
up the national championship crew were senior coxswain Adam Barhamand
(Naperville, Ill.), twin brothers and sophomores Grant and Ross James
(Dekalb, Ill.), senior Derek Rasmussen (Darnestown, Md.), junior Zach
Krupp (New Canaan, Conn.), junior Ed Newman (Palos Park, Ill.),
sophomore Max Goff (Sun Prairie, Wis.), junior George Walters
(Philadelphia) and senior Joe McMullin (Woodbridge, Va.).
varsity eight was certainly an exciting race, added Clark. The
conditions were boiling hot here, which is hardly favorable to
Wisconsin, but had a bit of a tailwind, which is favorable.
race plan was just to do exactly what we normally do - get out in the
lead, be very strong in the middle 1000, hopefully, and finish it off.
We had not sprinted once this whole year and we knew we were going to
have to in this race.
I didnt watch the race from the side; I
watched it from near the finish. There a quite a few blind spots, so I
was missing a little bit. The announcing - in certain places you can
hear it clearly, but in some of the best viewing spots, you cant, so I
didnt really hear it that clearly. I did hear that Washington got out
to a four-seat lead and my only thought was, `well, they must be really
fast to be able to be ahead of us at all, for even one stroke. I think
it became clear as the call continued that Washington paid dearly to
ever be ahead of us because we have a very, very quick boat. It is the
fastest boat Ive ever had here.
Sure enough we started reeling
them back in. We are 25-pounds lighter per man than Washington and the
heat and the pressure they put on, it is hard to maintain that.
Somewhere around 1000 meters we laid down our
major move. You do that all the time in races, but half the time they
are ineffective, but not this time. It took us from being down, to a
seat or two up, by a half length and then that was it. The game was
over. At one point we may have gotten two-third or three-quarters of a
length. When I heard that, the race was over. I just prayed a seat
didnt break, an oar handle didnt snap or we didnt hit a submerged
log because it was done in the last 500 because I knew that they could
sprint. They sprinted a bit. They come pretty hard and that was it.
addition to the varsity eight championship, the Badgers had a stellar
day, winning bronze medals in the second varsity eight, varsity pair
and freshman four, while also taking fourth in the varsity four without
coxswain, seventh in the open four, eighth in the freshman eight and
12th in the varsity four with coxswain.
Talking about the rest of
the Badger boats, Clark said, The day started out well with a third in
the varsity pair - a bronze, which was good. The freshman four got a
bronze and they hadnt had a medal in a couple of years so that was
also very good. We were fourth in the straight four. That was a big
surprise even in doing that well because they had not started well, so
we were really happy with that.
The open four won the petite
final, which was great. That was probably the race they needed in the
repechage, but they couldnt pull that together. It was a nice way to
finish. The varsity four had some troubles along the way, but they
finished one spot better than last year. They were 13th last year, this
year they were 12th, so we were happier than that.
eight was sort of a bubble crew, which often crews are. In other words
a crew in the right circumstance, good enough to be in the final. It
takes a little boat luck, but they didnt get that, so they ended up
second in the petite. It was an excellent race. They rowed well, so we
were happy with that.
The second varsity eight had not had good
races and that was the best race they had this year. The guys were
almost afraid to be pleased with that. I said, `dont worry about being
pleased. If that is the best you had and the best race all year, you
did it at exactly the right time. Great job for the guys who beat you,
but be pleased. Getting a medal at a major regatta is difficult to do
so enjoy that and I think they are.
The national title for the
UWs varsity eight was 18 years in the making and gave the Badgers
their eighth IRA national championship. The Badgers previous won national
titles in 1951, 1959, 1966, 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1990. Actually, the Badgers also won in 1986 at the Cincinnati Regatta, giving them nine championships, overall. The Cincinnati Regatta was a post-IRA invitational that served something of a second national championship race.
continued, Even thought you expect it and train for it, you still
cant believe your eyes when it is happening. You just say to yourself,
`yep, that was pretty darn good.
Though it was the eighth
IRA national title for the Badgers, it was the first time the Wisconsin
varsity eight has won the Eastern Sprints conference championship and
the IRA national championship in the same season. The national title
concludes an undefeated season for the Badgers.
There are some
unbelievable crews out there at the very top, Clark stated. We had no
business to be there. They are pretty skinny guys, not so strong,
pretty clever rowers, but clever usually gets bludgeoned down by power
and experience, but not in this case. Well take this one.