1907 Season

Edward Ten Eyck
Edward Ten Eyck
  Beau Hoopman
Benjamin F. Davis
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Season Results


Season Summary

In The Badger 1909 , crew captain Benjamin F. Davis wrote,

The rowing season of 1907 was filled with the ups and downs incident to every season. Work with the Freshmen began after Thanksgiving. With no coach at hand, the duty of teaching the youngsters the rudiments of rowing devolved upon the old Varsity men. Opinions differ as to the value of this early try-out. The coaches thought that they were all right, but that the Freshmen were as dense as a lot of nice cabbages. I have since learned that the Freshmen looked upon their coaches in much the same light. The feeling was evidently mutual.

Work with the freshman was discontinued at Christmas time to await the coming of the real coach whom Dr. Hutchins (probably the head of the UW Athletic Council) after weeks of the hardest kind of pleading with faculty and regents, was able to promise us.

With the opening of the second semester crew work began on an organized basis. The ponderous Ten Eyck - the new coach - took charge of the work, and institutes the usual course of indoor training on the machines. Little of interest occurred during this period, but with the opening of the lakes in the spring came the announcement of plans for the Syracuse-Wisconsin regatta. The men had worked faithfully before, but now with a chance such as no other Wisconsin crew had ever before had - to row an eastern crew on home waters - they grasped their oars with renewed vigor. The work was hampered at first by unfavorable weather and lack of a suitable coaching launch, but soon these ills were righted, and by the last of April both crews - Freshman and ‘Varsity - were in full swing. For two weeks during the month of May the crews went out twice each day - at six o'clock in the morning and six in the evening - and then eased up again the week preceding the race to one long row each evening.

You all know the story of the Regatta. How the Freshmen won from St. John's Military Academy; how the Wisconsin Four, rowing in a leaky tub, held the Syracuse intercollegiate champions to a few lengths; and then the climax - the race in the dark between the University Eights - Wisconsin finishing two lengths ahead.

Later in The Badger 1907 (p. 468) , Captain Benjamin Davis (No.4) is described,

Ben began his varsity experience early. He started rowing with the '07 (that is the class of 1907) Freshman crew, but before the season had far advanced he won a place of the Varsity eight. He established an enviable record by pulling an oar on the 1904, 1905, 1906 and 1907 Varsity boats. Last year he captained the crew. In the Syracuse race last spring when Wisconsin and Syracuse were rowing even, the eastern coxswain yelled ‘They're quitting! We've got the Badger beat, we've got the Badger beat!' Then Ben's voice was heard roaring out between strokes, ‘Like H—l they have.' The fellows took Ben's word for it and - .

Other members were also described in the Badger yearbook, “George S. Hines (No.3): George was the lady's man of the '07, and this fact caused (Coach) Ten Eyck considerable trouble until he instituted the ingenious scheme of fastening a girl's picture upon the back of No. 2. From then on George kept his eyes in the boat and evidenced the experience which he had gained on the ‘07 Freshman crew ( in 1904), the 1905 four, and the 1906 Varsity eight, on which he rowed until a torn ligament four days before the Poughkeepsie race prevented his rowing. In 1907 he was bow.”

Of another “D. H. Witte” ‘Bruiser' was on the '09 Freshman crew until two weeks before the St. John's race. Then he had a debate with the faculty on the question ‘Is hazing justifiable?' The decision was in favor of the negative, and Witte (No. 7) began his summer vacation in May.”

And finally “E. A. Dinet: Dinet stroked the '09 Freshman crew. As a sophomore Ten Eyck made him stroke of the varsity the first night out. ‘Dinny' had a lot of trouble at Poughkeepsie last year. One night two girls went so far a to follow him a couple of blocks, and though he managed to reach quarters unharmed, he admitted that he had been terribly frightened.”

Another description of the May 31, 1907 races against Syracuse on Lake Mendota came from the Syracuse crew's historian. Malcolm R. Alama, in his Mark of the Oarsmen , a history of the Syracuse men's crew, writes, “ ‘Ned' Ten Eyck was the oldest of three sons of Jim Ten Eyck, the growingly famous head crew coach at Syracuse. Ned was hired after Andrew O'Dea resigned following a long record of unimpressive showings at Poughkeepsie. The first indication of a ‘grudge' between Ten Eyck, the father, and Ten Eyck, the son, came to light when Ned wrote his father:

‘Most of the freshman crew are little fellows, but I am promised later some big and husky candidates that could give you all you wanted. Watch ‘em!'

Hiring Ned was part of a movement to awaken the sleeping giant - Wisconsin - instituted by Dr. C. P. Hutchings, former Syracuse football and track coach. When Hutchings was hired as UW's athletic director, he took the first step towards reviving crew by luring Ned away from a lucrative position as coach of the Philadelphia Barge Club crews.

The crews sent to Lake Mendota for the father-son grudge race with the Badgers were Syracuse University 's first oarsmen to cross the borders of New York State since rowing was introduced on the Syracuse campus in 1900. The atmosphere in Madison was one of coolness, father and son standing icily silent, eyes averted at the coin-tossing ceremony. It wasn't improved when the father in winning the toss shrewdly chose courses nearest the shore for both his eight-oared and four-oared crews. Ordinarily, this would be wise, for these were sheltered from extremely rough water and high winds.

The father's face was wreathed with smiles, when the four-oared crew won handily by eight lengths. It darkened, however, and then lengthened during the varsity race.

Stormy conditions on May 20 postponed that race until early in the evening. At the offset, with a tremendous surge, Syracuse captured the lead and grimly hung on. At half-mile, two smoke bombs wafted skyward from a chemical building, and the spectators were hardly able to see the race for the canopy of darkness; but almost instinctively they knew Syracuse was ahead.

Rowing in a flurry of 40 strokes per minute, Syracuse began to show strain of its unprecedented cadence at the mile mark. It was here that Ned's boat unexpectedly came up and rowed abreast. For the next half mile, both clung together.

Then the early pace began to tell, and Syracuse wilted under the strain.

Oar by oar, Wisconsin inched ahead, until one-fourth mile from the finish, it led by half a boat length. And when the Badgers went over the line, they were a good full boat length ahead.

Wisconsin fans were delirious with joy - shouting, hooting, screaming - from the fervor that came when a hometown victory was snatched at the last moment from ignominious defeat.

The cardinal of the son lowered the orange of the father, true, but in fact it represented a great victory for the Ten Eyck name. Touching was the sight of the father, warmly congratulating an embarrassed son, the prior coolness and misunderstanding washed away and forgotten in the exultant moment.

‘A great victory,' the proud father admitted without rancor, a twinkle spotting both eyes, ‘particularly because it's still in the family!' (Jim, Jr., the Syracuse coach's son and Ned's younger brother, almost certainly must have been the sophomore stroke in the Syracuse eight. It is also likely that the Syracuse coxswain was Frank Eldridge, who at the 1908 IRA started the custom of betting shirts, a custom which has continued into the 21 st century.)

To make matters worse for (Jim) Ten Eyck that year on the Hudson, Ned's UW freshman found the choppy river to their liking. They defeated the Syracuse freshman by a full length. Following them were Pennsylvania, Columbia and Cornell.”


At the IRA's :

Navy sent its first crew to Poughkeepsie in 1907.

Captain Ben Davis' Review continued, “The 1910 men (the UW freshman) won their race in fine style, but the Varsity, like the crack '04 crew, finished far behind the leaders with a boat half filled with water.

The reason for the defeat of the ‘big' Eight is not far to seek. In the first place, at the time of the race the water was entirely too rough to give outside crews a fair chance. In the second place, the Wisconsin crew was sent to row on a “rough water” river in a “smooth water” shell. This same mistake cost “Andy” O'Dea two victories - the 1904 Varsity and the 1909 Freshman race (of 1906). The writer most earnestly hopes that one experience of this kind will be enough for Wisconsin's new management.

"The writer believes in victories as well as sportsmanlike crews, and he feels that no season can be considered really successful unless fair play has brought victory in its train. The men of the '07 Varsity were hard workers and true to the ideals of rowing, but they met with misfortune in the great test. They did some splendid work, but the verdict on the season must be ‘unsatisfactory.'

For the first time, the Poughkeepsie varsity eight regatta was a seven-boat event; the finish was Cornell (20:02.4), Columbia, Navy, Penn, Wisconsin (which, poorly equipped for rough water, almost swamped), Georgetown and Syracuse (which sank near the finish).

In a photo caption, Leslie's Weekly of July 13, 1907 (Vol. LI, No. 2638, p. 1034.) writes “After one of the most closely contested struggles in the history of college rowing, Cornell's ‘varsity crew (20:13) won the IRA race at Poughkeepsie on June 26 (1907), with Columbia's boat only a yard behind; Navy was third. Throughout the four miles of the race the two boats rowed side by side.

This (Syracuse's prior victory in the varsity four-oared race) whet Syracuse's appetite, and visions of the return of the 1904 victories began to float before the upstate contingent. They were chipper going by the boat houses to the start of the freshman race and joined Wisconsin in cheering Young Ten Eyck (Ned, the new crew coach at Wisconsin) as they passed the Westerners' quarters. The young Diamond Sculls (an event at the Royal Henley Regatta in England) winner stood on the float giving the freshman their last advice as the train passed. He turned and waved acknowledgment. The crews were not ready at the start, but speedily got into line, Wisconsin joining the other four contenders.

The race was won by Wisconsin from the go. The Western crew, rowing beautifully together, and well within its strength, got away second to Cornell. Its prow showed in front of the other before the quarter mile, and it was never in any danger at any time thereafter. Columbia moved up to second place in the first half mile, and was rowing strongly about a quarter length ahead of Pennsylvania, with Cornell a length behind the Quakers and Syracuse lapping Cornell.

The positions were maintained to the mile, when Cornell began a tremendous spurt, and followed by Syracuse, commenced to move up. Cornell passed Pennsylvania, and then Columbia, but could make no impression on Wisconsin's lead. Syracuse passed Penn, and with her prow almost abreast Columbia, they passed the half-mile.

Then the spurt began to tell on Cornell and she dropped steadily back, but the other three fought it out for second place in a beautiful contest. Just a quarter mile from the finish Pennsylvania moved up to second place, passing Columbia and Syracuse, but Syracuse had more left, and in the last hundred yards won out second place, less than a quarter length separating the three boats - Syracuse, Penn and Columbia. Cornell was just lapped with Columbia.

After the race it was said that the Columbia shell had sprung a leak and that it was nearly half full of water as she crossed the line. If this were the case she made a mighty plucky effort. These two races were mighty galling to Cornell. Both lost without a contest, second in one (the four-oared race) and last in the other (the freshman race won by Wisconsin), the Ithacans (from Cornell) could not make it out. But they put a bold face on the bad condition.”

Wisconsin's freshman (9:58) won their 2 mile event in Poughkeepsie in a time of 9:58.0, followed by Syracuse, Penn, Columbia and Cornell.

The Frosh were stroked by Jack Wilce, who also played football (captain his senior year and an All-Conference fullback) for the Badgers. Wilce later gained a medical degree at UW. He went on to become a well-known football coach at Ohio State. Wilce served as Director of Football for fifteen years (1913-1928). Upon his resignation, Wilce expressed his intention of entering “the private practice of medicine and to cotinue teaching.

-"Cornell Wins Close Victory….Wisconsin Freshman Win,” New York Times, June 27, 1907


Seat 1907 UW Frosh Class Weight
Bow H. W. Rick ‘11 156
2 Samuel Kerr ‘11 158
3 H. A. Sumnicht ‘11 180
4 O. J. Hickcox ‘11 165
5 Peter J. Murphy ‘11 188
6 R. Takisch ‘11 170
7 Reuben W. Trane ‘11 163
Stroke J. (“Jack”) W. Wilce ‘11 164
Cox Eugene J. Ryan ‘11  
    Average 165 3/4



Capt Ben Davis

Capt Ben Davis


Winning Wisco Freshmen at Poughkeepsie

Winning Wisco Freshmen at Poughkeepsie


Western Regatta

Western Regatta


Various of Wisco Frosh

Various of Wisco Frosh


Lake Geneva rowing

Lake Geneva rowing


Jack Wilce
Steenbock Scrapbook Vol 37

Jack Wilce


1907 Wisco Crew at Poughkeepsie

Jack Wilce


Alfred W. Bechlem
Benjamin F. Davis
Eugene A. Dinet
George S. Hine
R. W. Lea
Verl A. Ruth
William A. Winkler


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