Badgers devour Gophers at Lake Phalen over the weekend

Minnesota lost all but one race Sunday to rival Wisconsin at home.

Minnesotas first varsity four rows against Wisconsin on Sunday morning on Lake Phalen in St. Paul, Minn.  The boat finished four seconds ahead of Wisconsin.

Mark Vancleave

Minnesota’s first varsity four rows against Wisconsin on Sunday morning on Lake Phalen in St. Paul, Minn. The boat finished four seconds ahead of Wisconsin.

by Dane Mizutani

Minnesota entered its regatta with Wisconsin this weekend and knew it was overmatched in both program history and team experience.

It showed Sunday.

The Gophers lost all but one race to the Badgers at Lake Phalen in St. Paul over the weekend.

“There’s a reason that they’re ranked No. 9 in the country and we’re not,” head coach Wendy Davis said. “We expected to have a really tough fight on our hands, and that’s what we got.”

Minnesota was dominated by rival Wisconsin at its first home regatta in more than two years.

Its only victory came from the first varsity four crew comprised of Kate Moran, Jaime Friscia, Melissa Drezdzon, Leah Rogotzke and coxswain Jackie Stein.

It was the first time all season this group competed together in competition.

“It’s a really significant performance for them to make a statement,” assistant coach Courtney Haase said. “They were told that they had to step up … and they did.”

Haase said she told that crew that she thought it could be the Gophers’ most competitive crew of the day.

“This was definitely the most memorable race,” Rogotzke said. “There were only a few strokes that we were even, and then we pulled off, and we watched them try to catch us.”

Wisconsin never did, and the first varsity four coasted to a fairly decisive win.

It was the first time Rogotzke has beaten the Badgers in her four-year career. She said the week of practice was intense, and the crew did everything in its power to beat Wisconsin.

“It was great because at the end [of the race], you’re tired and in a little bit of pain,” Rogotzke said, “but it’s completely worth it when you hear the horn go off telling you that you’ve won.”

Davis said she was pleased to see a win from that crew in a regatta otherwise powered by Wisconsin.

Minnesota was in the hunt in the second varsity eight race, but it failed to finish with enough gumption to garner a win. Davis said she thought the crew missed an opportunity.

The Gophers also failed to compete at a high level in the first varsity eight race and were handled easily by the Badgers.

“We’re very young in that boat … and we have to learn by going through the fire,” Davis said. “That’s what happened today — Wisconsin is legit.”

The Gophers will now have a week off of competition with the Big Ten regatta in two weeks.

Davis said there are a few technical issues that need to be cleaned up before then, but a lot of the performance will be based on mental preparation.

 “We’ve been really close to Michigan State, and we’ve been really close to Wisconsin so far this season,” she said. “I want to see us turn the corner. It’s a fast year in the Big Ten, and that’s all there is to it.”