May 29, 2014
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MADISON, Wis. -– The third-ranked Wisconsin women’s lightweight program ends its 2013-14 journey this Saturday and Sunday, May 31 and June 1, at the 2014 Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) National Championships. The end comes at the beginning for Mercer Lake in West Windsor, New Jersey, which serves as the IRA site for the first time in what is the 112th running of the championships.
The Badgers last raced back on May 4 at the 2014 Eastern Association of Women’s Rowing Colleges Championships, also known as the Eastern Sprints. The event serves as Wisconsin’s conference championships for women’s lightweight rowing.
UW took second in the lightweight varsity eight behind top-ranked Radcliffe, third in the second varsity lightweight eight and captured the varsity lightweight four. Only the lightweight eight and four will race at IRAs.
In the headlining lightweight varsity eight, Wisconsin owns three consecutive third-place finishes heading into 2014. That followed a second-place result in 2010. The Badgers captured five of six national titles from 2004 through 2009.
"They are an amazing group of athletes," coach Lisa Schlenker said. "I have three returners, including coxswain, from last year’s IRA boat and otherwise it is all new. They were throwing down some numbers today that showed they are ready. I’m really pleased with that.
"They came into the dock today and they were all smiles. In the final days, it is the athletes believing in their speed and talent, and they believe it.
"What is going to happen at 11:24 on Sunday is one thing; what they can go into the race with is the belief, and the knowledge, and the strength and the support of their coaching staff and of alumni who are showing up from different states to watch them."
UW’s lightweight varsity four has picked up the slack as the three-time defending IRA champion entering this year’s regatta.
"I haven’t a clue what BU, Radcliffe, Stanford or anyone else is going to bring to the four," stated Schlenker. "It is really who shows up."
Wisconsin opens its 2014 IRAs at 7:15 a.m. CT on Saturday with the second heat of the lightweight eight. The Badgers face No. 2 Stanford, No. 6 Bucknell and No. 7 MIT, with the winner of the heat advancing to Sunday’s grand final. The remaining crews will race again in an early afternoon repechage with a second chance to reach Sunday’s grand final.
Stanford goes for its fifth consecutive lightweight eight IRA national title.
In the lightweight four heat, scheduled for Saturday at 7:45 a.m. CT, UW will race Radcliffe, Princeton and Boston University, with a similar progression to Sunday’s grand final.
"I will be happily surprised by everything this weekend," Schlenker concluded. "I believe in Wisconsin rowers, but once they do the final 2K on Sunday, that is what we have."