NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!!!

The dynasty continues for the Wisconsin lightweight rowers as they claim their fourth national championship in the last five years.

CHERRY HILL, N.J. - Make it four national championships in five years for the Wisconsin women's lightweight rowers as the top-ranked women's lightweight eight won the 2008 Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championship on Saturday. Racing took place on a 2000-meter course on the Cooper River.

"It was a pretty good day for us," said women's lightweight coach Erik Miller. "We won the race and it was in pretty convincing fashion. It was good.

"Our race was after the men's varsity eight race and I was riding my bike following that race and that was just an amazing race. Hats off to those guys. They did an awesome job and it was really inspiring. My team didn't get to see the race because they were warming up, but before the start they were told that the men had won and I think that really fired them up."

The Badgers clocked a time of 6:35.117 to win by open water over second-place Georgetown (6:39.617). Stanford took home the bronze in 6:42.617.

"We executed really well," added Miller. "We got out with speed right with everybody. At the start of the race, Stanford had a little bit of a lead on us for a little while and Georgetown was sticking nice and close. Princeton was right there too. We had a great start and hung right with those crews. Then at the 500-meter mark, started to pull away. Just put a little bit of distance on the other crews. We started to come back and get a little bit of a lead on Stanford as we came through 750. Our move at 750 was sort of a deal breaker for everybody else. We pushed out and got ourselves to close to a length lead by the 1000. The team rowed really well and continued to push away and won by open water."

This year's national championship boat included junior coxswain Heidi Hunsberger (Wilton, Conn.), senior Kristin Hedstrom (Concord, Mass.), junior Kelley Kowitz (Barrington, Ill.), senior Cecily Shiel (Brookline, Mass.), sophomore Kaela Erickson (Wauwatosa, Wis.), frosh Catherine Diao (San Francisco), frosh Grace Lautman (Seattle), frosh Mia Cava (Ardmore, Pa.) and junior Lane Benes (Milwaukee).

This group gives the Badgers their fourth women's lightweight eight national championship all-time, and fourth in the last five years. Wisconsin won in 2004, 2005, 2006 and now 2008. However, this is the first championship under current head coach Erik Miller.

"The team has done a great job since Sprints," concluded Miller. "We've done a lot of work all year long. It was a tough season starting out because we got on the water so late, but the team supported each other, believed in each other and believed in the coaches. There is a lot of trust on the team and we all worked together and the boat got faster almost every time we got on the water. After Eastern Sprints, we put in a lot of good work and took advantage of the time that we had.

"I'm extremely happy with the season and the athletes and how everything turned out. It is definitely a really fun day to be associated with Wisconsin rowing."


Badger Nation Top Stories