May 2, 2010

Courtesy of Wisconsin

LAINGSBURG, Mich. - The Big Ten's oldest women's rowing program has its first conference championship. Wisconsin's women's openweight rowing won the 2010 Big Ten Rowing Championship on Saturday on the strength of wins in four of the six events. Racing at the 11th annual Big Ten championships took place on Lake Ovid at Sleepy Hollow State Park.

"The conditions today were really challenging," said Bryans. "It was a pretty strong tailwind and the water was a little bit rough, so it really required a lot of focus and a lot of confidence going out there knowing we could handle it and I think we did a really good job of rising to that challenge."

The second varsity eight, varsity four, novice eight and second novice eight all won titles, while the varsity eight placed second and the second varsity four took third to power the Badgers.

Wisconsin won the team title with 148 points, with Michigan State's 132 points good for second. Michigan (111 points) and Ohio State (105 points) rounded out the top four.

"I couldn't be prouder of my team today," said Head Coach Bebe Bryans. "The entire team including the people who didn't travel, because everybody's effort made this team championship possible."

With the Badgers holding a 19-point lead heading into the varsity eight race, they needed to finish at least third to capture the school's first conference title, and did one better. Michigan State took the varsity eight in 6:17.41, but the Badgers clocked a 6:22.63 to take a 0.01 second edge over Ohio State at the line for second place and the conference crown.

The varsity eight stepped up to finish the job, but it was the rest of the UW crews that put Wisconsin in winning position.

"Everybody really believed in themselves," Bryans said. "We didn't get wrapped up in what was going on around us. As each final went out and raced hard and well, the excitement just kind of grew, not for the championship really, but just to have the chance to go out and do the same thing. I think that is what made all the difference for us."

The UW second varsity eight won its second title in three years and second all-time, finishing the 2,000-meter course in 6:22.09. The boat crossed with an open-water victory over second-place Michigan, which timed 6:24.99. Ohio State was third in 6:29.82.

UW's second varsity eight included coxswain Molly Evjen (Portland, Ore.), Sarah Bootsma (Glendale, Wis.), Rebekah Foelker (Watertown, Wis.), Meryl Chaffee (East Grand Rapids, Mich.), Bronwyn Knaebe (Madison, Wis.), Caitlin Mueller (Kohler, Wis.), Kate Mansfield (Decorah, Iowa), Rachel Buchholtz (East Troy, Wis.), Vanessa Kleiss (Grantsburg, Wis.).

The second varsity eight followed Wisconsin's title in the varsity four, the Badgers' first in the event since the inaugural Big Ten championship held in Madison, Wis., on Lake Wingra in 2000. The Badgers' time of 7:15.13 was nearly two seconds better than Michigan State's 7:17.02. Michigan was third in 7:24.99.

UW's winning varsity four included coxswain Jane Roberts (Arlington, Va.), Hayley Leinss (West Bend, Wis.), Shannon Schlack (Brooklyn, Wis.), Maggie Yale (Racine, Wis.) and Kirsten Morelli (Arlington Heights, Ill.).

Both Badger novice crews also won titles, including the fifth for the novice eight and eighth in the second novice eight.

The novice eight won by open water over Michigan with a time of 6:42.70, while the Wolverines clocked a 6:45.44 over 2,000 meters for second place. Michigan State was third in 6:53.37 and Indiana took fourth in 7:04.92.

UW's novice eight crew included coxswain Kendall Schmidt (Greenfield, Wis.), Jennifer Marchuk (Winnetka, Ill.), Brenna Van Maren (Fremont, Wis.), Jackie Koykkar (Madison, Wis.), Hanna Lynch (Eagan, Minn.), Lauren Peitila (Hartford, Wis.), Katelyn Swanson (Red Wing, Minn.), Julia Whittet (Mequon, Wis.) and Mollie Kryka (Verona, Wis.).

The second novice eight won by over six seconds in a time of 6:53.10. Ohio State was a distant second in 6:59.21. Michigan State's 7:12.13 was good for third place.

Coxswain Abigail Bitter (Whitefish Bay, Wis.), Katherine Hanes (Germantown, Wis.), Melanie Moranski (New Berlin, Wis.), Amy Slesar (Pewaukee, Wis.), Alyssa Alvarez (Harford, Wis.), Caroline Robbins (Bethesda, Md.), Nora Boneham (Kenilworth, Ill.), Kate Yeksigian (Buffalo, N.Y.) and Jessica Baldwin (San Francisco) made up the second novice eight championship crew.

UW's second varsity four placed third, with Minnesota and Michigan State placing ahead of the Badgers.

Four Badgers, all seniors, were named All-Big Ten. First-team selections included Vicky Opitz (Middleton, Wis.) and Katy Haver (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), while second-team picks included Grace Latz (Jackson, Mich.) and Katie Hurtis (Rochester, Minn.).

"The Big Ten is such a tough league that you've really got to put your best game together to come out with a championship," analyzed Bryans. "While we've been in position in the past - we've been seeded to win and been seeded to be very competitive - we just haven't been able to find the belief and the strength to prevail and I think that's what the difference was today.

"It is really exciting to see that we've jumped that hurdle and I think it will be a real positive influence on what is to come. The big challenge now is to enjoy the feeling and the happiness that comes with this kind of success and yet keep our eyes on the ultimate goal, which is to be successful at Centrals as well and get a bid to NCAAs so that we can keep the ball rolling there and have that be the top of our game."

The Badgers take next weekend off before returning to the water on May 15-16 for the 2010 NCAA Central/South Regional in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Selections for the NCAA field of 16 follow on May 18.

Bryans concluded, "Thanks to everybody who is involved with the rowing program, including all of the coaches, strength coaches, athletic trainers, our athletic administrator John Jentz and the rest of the department for giving us the support that we have."

2010 Big Ten Rowing Championships
Laingsburg, Michigan
Lake Ovid, Sleepy Hollow State Park
May 1, 2010
2,000 meters

Team Standings

1. Wisconsin, 148
2. Michigan State, 132
3. Michigan, 111
4. Ohio State, 105
5. Minnesota, 66
6. Iowa, 51
7. Indiana, 30

First Varsity Eight
Grand Final

1. Michigan State, 6:17.41 (63 points); 2. Wisconsin, 6:22.63 (54 points);
3. Ohio State, 6:22.64 (45 points); 4. Michigan, 6:25.98 (36 points)

Heat 2 (Top two advance to Grand Final)
1. Ohio State, 6:25.70; 2. Wisconsin, 6:27.20; 3. Iowa, 6:31.20

UW Lineup: Coxswain Sarah Obernauer, Katy Haver, Grace Latz, Briana Pittman, Lisa Godhardt,
Vicky Opitz, Katie Hurtis, Anna Schettle, Ahna Olson

Second Varsity Eight
Grand Final
1. Wisconsin, 6:22.09 (42 points); 2. Michigan, 6:24.99 (36 points);
3. Ohio State, 6:29.82 (30 points); 4. Michigan State, 6:33.01 (24 points)

Heat 1 (Top two advance to Grand Final)
1. Wisconsin, 6:32.39; 2. Michigan, 6:35.46; 3. Minnesota, 6:51.04; 4. Indiana, 6:58.68

UW Lineup: Coxswain Molly Evjen, Sarah Bootsma, Rebekah Foelker, Meryl Chaffee, Bronwyn Knaebe,
Caitlin Mueller, Kate Mansfield, Rachel Buchholtz, Vanessa Kleiss

First Varsity Four
Grand Final
1. Wisconsin, 7:15.13 (21 points); 2. Michigan State, 7:17.02 (18 points);
3. Michigan, 7:24.99 (15 points); 4. Ohio State, 7:30.83 (12 points)

Heat 1 (Top two advance to Grand Final)
1. Wisconsin, 7:18.61; 2. Michigan State, 7:23.62; 3. Iowa, 7:40.64; 4. Indiana, 7:49.95

UW Lineup: Coxswain Jane Roberts, Hayley Leinss, Shannon Schlack, Maggie Yale, Kirsten Morelli

Second Varsity Four
Grand Final
1. Minnesota, 7:25.65 (14 points); 2. Michigan State, 7:31.76 (12 points);
3. Wisconsin, 7:32.78 (10 points); 4. Michigan, 7:42.55 (8 points)

Heat 2 (Top two advance to Grand Final)
1. Wisconsin, 7:33.70; 2. Michigan, 7:37.14; 3. Ohio State, 7:46.59

UW Lineup: Coxswain Beth Swanson, Shannon Hoffman, Kirsten Rhude, Sara Watermolen, Meghan Khoury

First Novice Eight
Grand Final
1. Wisconsin, 6:42.70 (14 points); 2. Michigan, 6:45.44 (12 points);
3. Michigan State, 6:53.37 (10 points); 4. Indiana, 7:04.92 (8 points)

Heat 1 (Top two advance to Grand Final)
1. Wisconsin, 6:43.00; 2. Michigan State, 6:44.94; 3. Minnesota, 7:35.30; 4. Iowa, 8:32.97

UW Lineup: Coxswain Kendall Schmidt, Jennifer Marchuk, Brenna Van Maren, Jackie Koykkar, Hanna Lynch,
Lauren Peitila, Katelyn Swanson, Julia Whittet, Mollie Kryka

Second Novice Eight
Grand Final
1. Wisconsin, 6:53.10 (7 points); 2. Ohio State, 6:59.21 (6 points);
3. Michigan State, 7:12.13 (5 points); 4. Michigan, 7:12.26 (4 points)

Heat 1 (Top two advance to Grand Final)
1. Wisconsin, 6:%7.04; 2. Michigan, 7:12.39; 3. Indiana, 7:52.19

UW Lineup: Coxswain Abigail Bitter, Katherine Hanes, Melanie Moranski, Amy Slesar, Alyssa Alvarez,
Caroline Robbins, Nora Boneham, Kate Yeksigian, Jessica Baldwin