1932 Season

Mike Murphy
George 'Mike' Murphy
  Harold Smedal
Harold Smedal
 Results | Summary | Photos | W Winners 

Season Results


Season Summary

November 13, 1931, Athletic Director George E. Little will break ground for the new UW rowing tank.

Former Head Crew Coach C. C. McConville (1898-1899) was instrumental in organizing the Wisconsin Rowing Association, formally incorporated on November 14, 1931; signers included McConville ( Clintonville , WI ), Walter Alexander ( Milwaulee , WI ) and Harry Thoma ( Madison , WI ). He also headed this group of former Badger oarsmen, whose purpose was to advance the interests of rowing at Wisconsin .


The Badger of 1933 began:

Miles of work…in shell and on the rowing machines….for
the shortest competitive season of all Badger sports.”

No sport offers a longer season - from the opening of school in September until the year's conclusion in June - than crew. No one has ever attempted the almost insurmountable task of estimating the amount of energy expended by crew candidates. Rowing machine shelved in the (Red Gym) gym annex in the fall and winter and long shell on the lake in the spring are the scenes of activity.

A crew that was not better than average and a much-slashed athletic budget caused the elimination of the usual trip east to Poughkeepsie. Instead the Badger eight competed in a new event - the Ohio River Regatta.

The Milwaukee Rowing Club eight (mostly older rowers) came to Madison for the first test of the year, and offered little to a Wisconsin varsity and freshman fleet that showed little respect for the old veterans who made up most of the visiting eight. About 2,500 persons lined the university lake shore to see the only local race of the year, and they watched five Badger boats cross the finish line before the tired Rowing Club crew pulled across the finish line. The order of finish in the six boat race was - Wisconsin varsity, the junior varsity, the second, first and third frosh crews and the Milwaukee Boat Club finished in that order. The visitors did little more than challenge the last of these. (Time: 5:33 on a one mile course. ).

The Badgers left Madison by train for Marietta , Ohio and slept in ‘sleeper' cars with bunk-like beds on either side of the aisle; the baggage car carrying the shell was behind the sleeper car. The night before the race, the fraternities and sororities of Marietta College serenaded the visiting crews from Penn and Wisconsin .

Wisconsin met Pennsylvania and Marietta College in the Ohio River race, held at Marietta , Ohio , for the first time. The trip was not especially long, but only the fact that the town's businessmen paid the expenses allowed Wisconsin to compete. The Badger boat finished second to Pennsylvania , trailing by two lengths the victors who were timed at 10:23 for the four (sic, two miles) pull. Marietta 's eight was four lengths behind the winner. A bad lane was credited with hindering the badger effort.

The crew budget was published in The Badger 1932 (pgs. 224-6). Revenues for 1931-32 were $0 (though “Drive” money raised in each of the three previous years averaged $580 over 1928-31) and expenses were $5,876 (down from an average of $12,000 in each of the three prior years) including staff salaries ($4,750), General Supplies ($301) and Other Business Items ($825).

June 18, UW took on the Minnesota Boat Club on Lake Mendota over the Henley distance of 1 5/16ths miles.

Choppy water hampered the oarsmen while a quartering wind off the stern aided to a certain extent. The men were forced to swing their oars high out of the water in order to ‘feather' properly. Stroke Fred Emerson, Jr. stroked a magnificent race and had the Badgers out in front by better than half a length at the very start when he sent his eight away to a perfect racing start. Wisconsin dropped to 30 and the losers had trouble getting off a short 28.

When Wisconsin raised the beat to 32, ( Minnesota ) stroke Johnson tried to raise the Boat Club's pace but to no avail. The Badgers finished with a steady, powerful 34 and Minnesota finished with 30, losing ground all the way. Wisconsin was in excellent condition at the finish. Wisconsin 's boating: Bryant (bow), Eckhardt, Metz , Helmke, Captain Smedal, Silbernagel, Tessendorf, Emerson (stroke) and Berger (coxswain).

Saturday's race may be the last for a Wisconsin crew for some time if the regents follow a recommendation of the athletic board and suspend the sport except here on an intramural basis.

Announced June 4, 1932, the Athletic Board approved honor awards to members of the varsity and junior varsity crews and the tennis team and freshman numerals in wrestling.


In the IRA's:

Wisconsin did not attend for lack of financial resources in the Athletic Department's budget.

On page one, The New York Times reported these IRA finishes: varsity eight - California (19:55), Cornell, Washington, Navy, Syracuse, Columbia, Penn and MIT; junior varsity eight - Syracuse, California, Navy, Cornell, Columbia an MIT; and the freshman eight - Syracuse, Navy, Cornell, California, Penn, Columbia and MIT.

The New York Times Sunday Photo Section dated June 26, 1932 (p. 4) includes caption, under photo of eight boats under the railroad bridge, just past the three-mile mark, describing finish as California, Cornell, Washington, Navy, Syracuse, Columbia, Penn and MIT.


What makes a good coxswain:

From the 1932 loss to Penn at Marietta , Paul O. Eckhardt, Jr., (No. 2 seat in the Class of ‘33) observed:

That loss was our coxswain's fault. He had too little racing experience. When the coxswain wants the stroke pace increased, he raps the ‘knockers' (wooden cylinders in each hand) on the side of the boat at a faster beat. He never had us sprint. He didn't know quite what to do.”



Marietta Regatta Bill

Marietta Regatta Bill


Wisco (near lane) at Marietta

Wisco (near lane) at Marietta


Wisco President Glenn Frank

Wisco President Glenn Frank



Henry A. Anderson
Sam B. Berger
Norwood T. Bryant
Orville G. Dutton
Paul O. Eckhardt, Jr.
Fred L. Emerson
Theo Eserkaln
Edward C. Helmke
Kenneth Hollander
William B. Hovey
Robert E. Jones
Robert Keown
Robert O. Kettnet
James F. McCain
Roman P. Metz
Oscar Olson
Herman A. Silbernagel
Harold Smedal
Charles Tessendorf
Robert M. Wells
Richard C. Woodman
John Zaylor


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