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UW Coach Walz returned from the Navy (service) in late '45 and started rebuilding the crew for its famous season. Arranging an elaborate schedule and using the sky-ways for transportation, he brought nation-wide publicity to Wisconsin . Most of the crew members of 1941 and 42 had returned from the service and Walz soon had a fine crew in the making.
Because Roy Rom had accepted some pay back in the fall of 1942, he was no longer eligible to compete. Walz put him on as his assistant.
During the fall, Paul Klein, 2-seat in the varsity eight, was named by Ginger Rogers as a ‘Badger Beauty' during ceremonies of the Sad Sack Shuffle, a dance sponsored by veterans attending the University. Klein, from Two Rivers, WI, was later a pro-football field official in football before his premature death in an auto accident.
An undated, unlabeled clip and photo described Norman Zaichick, a UW pre-med student from Madison Central as a coxswain candidate of coach Walz. Zaichick is 4' 2” and weighs exactly 78 pounds (Walz-Holtz clip).
In the spring of 1946, Ralph Falconer stopped by Bud Foster's Armory office to try out for basketball. The office was shared by Foster and crew coach Walz. With coach Foster out, Walz seized the opportunity to snare the lad.
March 21, the ice blew off the lake. An undated, unlabeled news clipping (Waltz gift to Holtz) described the scene:
Wisconsin's varsity crew ‘shoved out the ice' Thursday afternoon to get its first workoput of the season on Lake Mendota. With a south wind moving the ice away from the boat house shore, the Wisconsin crew and coachng launch followed the pack to get in a workout. The Badgers have abandoned their workouts on the Yahara (an Indian word for ‘catfish') River now that it is possible to get drills on Mendota. Through the courtesy of the Madison Curling Club, the University of Wisconsin was able to store its shells in the club house on East Washington Aveenue during these wintry workouts.
To avoid a kite which fell in its path, the “Dad Vail” coaching launch stopped suddenly and was rammed by the varsity eight shell. The result was the shell stove a sizeable hole in the launch. Carlyle Fay, a member of the Naval ROTC, was coxing the V8 at the time.
April 26, the frosh were scheduled to meet St. John's Military Academy in Delafield , Wisconsin for a 1 mile event. An undated news clipping advised UW's 3 rd varsity (6:50), in an initially strong cross-wind, defeated St. John's by four lengths.
In the lead-up to the May 4 races, Stu Crawford of the Daily Cardinal wrote the “Wolf's Den” column for Sport's Editor Bob Wolf and noted
As late as 1928, crew ranked with football as the leading varsity sport at Wisconsin . In those days different types of award sweaters were given to members of ‘major' and ‘minor' sports teams. The only wearers of the ‘blocked' ‘W' as we know it today were the gridders and the oarsmen, according to Harold “Bud” Foster, All-American basketball player in 1930 and present coach of the hardwood sport at the university.
May 4 - all the races were held the same day. The 1946 varsity started out by defeating the Badger Jayvees and Marietta College in a 1½ mile race over Lake Mendota . During this race, the JV-8 shell, a section boat, broke just behind the stroke seat and sank. An alumni eight, organized by Andrew Konopka, “a former crew man from Milwaukee,” was to row with the third varsity.
The varsity four-oar boat also defeated a Marietta four in a mile race the same afternoon. The third varsity also defeated West High School of Madison in a mile race. The fourth varsity defeated Lane Tech high school of Chicago in a one mile race in Madison . The UW varsity was also scheduled against the Marietta varsity. In addition, inter-calss and inter-fraternity races were scheduled.
The jayvee's had a full season. On May 10, UW's JV-8 (5:10) outdistanced by two lengths of open water the two Detroit Boat Club crews (the DBC's “A” boat's time was 5:16.5) in a cold rain on a choppy one mile course on the Detroit River. UW's stroke, Tom Blacklock, is a former Detroit Boat club stroke.
On May 11, the third varsity ( 6:33 ) defeated the St. John's Military Academy ( 6:47 ) over a mile and one-quarter course in Madison (May 11) by four lengths and again later in the season over a 1½ mile course.
May 18, UW's JV-8 was scheduled against Lincoln Park Boat Club in Madison and, on the same day, the third varsity was scheduled against St. Michael's
(Chicago) in Madison.
In the May 1946 issue, Wisconsin Crew Corporation Secretary and UW Assistant Coach Roy Rom wrote, “Due to limitations in shipping space all our “away” races will be rowed in borrowed shells. Arrangements have been made for a fair and equitable distribution of the shells between all schools participating. Wisconsin will furnish its own riggers and oars. Most important of all, it will supply the eight giants which we hope will move that boat over the course faster than any other school.”
The First Eastern Sprints Regatta:
The Wisconsin Varsity Eight's First Major Regatta Victory!
For the first time ever for a Badger athletic team (and for a crew team anywhere), the UW crew flew May 9th (returning May 12th) to Annapolis for the May 11th regatta. The airplane, before its conversion to a commercial passenger plane by Pennsylvania-Central Airlines, is believed to have been the big, four-engine Douglas aircraft, dubbed the “Flying White House,” when it was used by President Franklin Roosevelt to attend the historic wartime Big Four Conference in Casablanca .
The schedule was to be Milwaukee to Washington aboard the Pennsylvania Central Airlines System Capitaliner flight with a return Washington to Chicago on PCA. In Chicago , the crew will board a Northwest Airlines flight for Madison .
The varsity startled its followers by winning their first major regatta crown in Badger history, sweeping to a May 11 th victory at the first Eastern Sprints (then variously called the “Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges Regatta” or the “Eastern Intercollegiate Regatta”) on a 1¾ mile course on the Severn River in Annapolis, MD. The order of finish was Wisconsin (9:12.8), Navy, Columbia , Rutgers , Cornell, Penn, Princeton, MIT and Harvard. The Wisconsin team was “gigantic” averaging 6'3” and about 19 years of age.
The Evening Capital of Annapolis wrote:
The irony of the varsity crew race was that Wisconsin defeated the Navy crew by a length using the midshipman's 1945 shell, while Navy rowed in a 1939 Pennsylvania shell. The nine crews that participated drew for three Navy, three Pennsylvania and three Princeton shells. Wisconsin got the Navy's 1945 “A. B. Yeates” shell while Navy got the “Joseph W. Burke” of Pennsylvania . After the drawing on Thursday, Navy Coach Charles S. (“Buck”) Walsh declared that the new shell would give Wisconsin the margin of victory.
Yard patrol boats, motor sailors, yachts, canoes and various other craft lined the Severn , or lay pinched at the varsity finish line when the regatta started behind schedule due to cross winds that prevented the crews from lining up at the stake boats. The bleachers at Severnside were filled.
Fleet Admiral William S. Halsey USN (ret.) and Vice Admiral Jesse B. Olendorf, USN., were the guests of Vice Admiral Aubrey W. Bench, USN., superintendent of the Naval Academy, on the superintendent's yacht, the Anita Clay.
In the jayvee race, all nine stake boats were swamped as the crews lined up and the wind swung them at a 45 degree angle with the course. Princeton , Cornell, MIT and Navy was the finish of the JV-8 event. Wisconsin did not enter a junior varsity.
Colonel Robbins tried to start the nine varsity shells from the stake boats, but he was again forced to use a flying start, sending crews racing down stream at 6:06PM . Wisconsin coach Allen Walz, on the press boat, watching the Wisconsin crew moving on the line, declared they were all too heavy and needed more work. He said they averaged 186 pounds in weight and 6 foot 3 inches in height. All afternoon he had been joking about his crew's chances, declaring they were just rowing for the fun of it.
At the start of the varsity race, it appeared that his view might be correct, as Wisconsin fell back of the group of crews that got away in front. After a half mile of water had been covered, Princeton was leading Navy by a deck, with Wisconsin a deck behind the midshipmen. Columbia, in the outside lane in the middle of the river, was steadily stroking toward the lead and Harvard, which started fast, was beginning to break.
Wisconsin Takes Over
Carl Holtz, of Milwaukee, 185 pound, 6 foot 3-inch, Wisconsin stroke, who had piloted (sic, Holtz was a navigator) bombers during the war, put on the pressure soon after the start, moving the stroke to a 36. A mile from the finish line, Wisconsin had moved in front of the pack, trailed by Navy, Columbia, Princeton, MIT, Penn with Rutgers, Cornell and Harvard fighting it out in a second group. All nine crews were closely bunched. Princeton had swung into a 36 seeking to keep pace with Wisconsin , but Navy was holding its own at a lower beat.
In the next quarter mile, the leaders, Wisconsin , Navy, Columbia and Princeton were fighting it out with not more than a length and a half covering all four boats. Princeton found the going too tough and began dropping back and Wisconsin swept over the finish line in the unusually fast time of 9:12.8. Navy (9:16.8) came across a length behind, four seconds later, with Columbia (9:18.8) at two seconds, or a half length behind the midshipmen. Rutgers (9:20.8) took fourth, a half length behind and Cornell (9:22.8), Penn (9:24.8), Princeton (9:24.5), MIT (9:26.5) and Harvard (9:27.5) followed.
The Wisconsin crew consisted of a senior, four juniors, a sophomore and three freshmen. Walz said it was the first varsity intercollegiate boat race Wisconsin had won in 65 years and was the first intercollegiate (title) to go to the Middle West . He said he hoped it would encourage Ohio State , Purdue and Minnesota to take up rowing.
After the varsity race, Walz bewailed the fact he hadn't brought a jayvee eight, declaring this second varsity boat was just as good as his varsity.
Wisconsin, for the first and only time through 2003, won the Rowe Cup at the Eastern Sprints, with 10 points; Princeton had 8, Navy 6, Cornell 5, Columbia 3 and MIT 2. Henry J. McCormick, in his regular sports column (undated in the Holtz clipping file) in the Wisconsin State Journal , repeated the “old ballad,”
Sing a song of college days,
Tell me where to go –
Northwestern for her pretty girls,
Wisconsin where they row.
McCormick went on to say, “( Wisconsin 's victory on the Severn River ) probably brought Wisconsin more immediate prominence than any other single athletic feat performed by a Badger team.”
During the same period, assistant coach Rom took the JV-8 to Detroit for a race against the Detroit Boat Club, which they won.
Later in the spring (May 25), Wisconsin attended one of the feature race events in the 1946 American Championships - the 12 th Annual Scholastic Rowing Regatta in Philadelphia . In the 5:00 PM varsity eight event, UW (7:11.0) defeated coach Rusty Callow's Penn varsity (7:11.4), jayvee and lightweight eight crews on the Schuylkill River at Philadelphia over a 1 1/16 th mile or the Henley distance. UW's coxswain, Carlyle Fay, remembers the Schuylkill , which originates from the mouth of a coal mine, as being “black as coal.” Fay found his way onto the crew through his roommate, Ralph Falconer, who himself was discovered by Walz in the registration lines. According to Fay, “anyone Walz had to look up to was invited out for crew.”
Wisconsin 's crew almost experienced another “berry crate” incident. A dredge, anchored at the quarter-mile mark forced coxie, Carlyle Fay, to steer the Badger shell around this obstacle to get to a straight course for the remaining mile. As the shell veered, it collided with the Penn jayvee boat and both crews locked oars for about 10 strokes. After getting cleared of this mess, Wisconsin was two lengths behind the Pen varsity. A half-mile from the finish, Badger stroke Carl Holtz “caught a crab” and lost his oar behind him for 15 seconds but he raised the beat to 40 against a severe head wind and rough water to send the Badger shell to a deck-length win over the Quaker varsity. A crowd of 5,000 watched. UW rowed in a Penn shell and used Penn's Red and Blue blades, preferring them to their own blades which they brought.
The Sunday following the Philadelphia event, the UW crew “spent the afternoon at Shibe Park watching the Brooklyn Dodger's trim the A's in a double header. Between games and after having visited the press box and the broadcasting booths, the Badgers visited the Dodgers in their dressing room. Leo Durocher gave an impromptu comment on what makes athletic winners and Walz rewarded him with some of Wisconsin 's noted produce, cheese. (Walz, from New York , had been the announcer of the first pro football game ever broadcast on television. The contest, between the Brooklyn Football Dodgers and the Philadelphia Eagles, was played October 22, 1939 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn . Brooklyn won 23-14.)
A week later on June 1, UW traveled to Ithaca , NY , the home of Cornell's Big Red. Carlyle Fay, UW's varsity cox, returned to Madison for classes and Roy Rom coxed, and acted as assistant coach to, the varsity during much of the practice period in Ithaca . Fay returned to Cornell on Friday and practiced again with the varsity. After the Friday work out, Walz sent the crew back to the boat house. On its own way back, the coaching launch ran out of gas. Stranded on the Lake ( Lake Cayuga is 10 miles long, north to south), Walz, the manager and Rom had to paddle the launch back to the inlet. There was only one paddle in the boat, so coach Walz used his big megaphone as an oar.
UW's crew distributed over 150 pounds of Wisconsin cheese on eastern and western trips in 1946.
Yale's Sport's Information Office further distilled Walz's coaching record: “UW (5:08) won over Cornell, Princeton and Penn on a one mile course on Cayuga Lake inlet at Ithaca, NY.”
No IRA's were held in 1946.
In preparation for the Seattle competition, coach Walz used a new shell called an “octopede” during a workout inn Madison, The shell has eight oarsmen each with two oars. Walz'sidea was to use the sculling technique to help teach swing and body control.
On Thursday June 20, after a weary and rather bumpy air trip (assistant coach Roy Rom remembers taking the 400 Limited train to Minneapolis, as weather forced their plane to pass up Madison, and then Northwest airlines to Seattle.), the heretofore undefeated Badger crew was met at the airport around sundown by the UW alumni of Seattle and a battery of reporters. After a warm reception, the crew was transported, led by a motorcycle escort of Seattle police, to the Naval Air Station where they stayed in the Junior Officers quarters. The meals were served in the main dining room of the PX, all the visiting crews eating at the same time. The arrival was too late for a workout Thursday being delayed by weather. UW cox Carlisle Fay remembers arriving a day late and finding the lanes had already been chosen and all the boats assigned, with UW getting both a bad, wind-swept lane (6 of 8) and an old boat (at 11 years old, it was the oldest shell in the race).
On June 22, 1946 at the Northwest Maritime Regatta (a/k/a the Seattle Invitational Sprint Regatta), “Cornell (7:19.7), which was previously beaten twice by Wisconsin , came in first, followed by MIT (7:22.3), Washington ( 7:23 ) and Wisconsin ( 7:24 ). Eight crews competed in this regatta in Andrews Bay on Lake Washington in Seattle , Washington . The '46 Wisconsin varsity crew startled the rowing world, and but for the fact that it encountered delays in air transportation and rough water, which combined to keep the Badgers inactive for five days prior to reaching Seattle for the sprint race, plus the fact that the crew had to race in a borrowed shell and drew an outside lane unprotected from a very strong wind, the Badgers placed fourth in the only race it lost in its greatest season in Wisconsin's rowing history. Cornell had the calm inside lane No. 1.
Life magazine's account of the race read, “At Seattle, last fortnight, a record crowd of 150,000 people gathered at Lake Washington to watch the climax of the first postwar college crew racing season, the International Regatta. Eight colleges were competing: Cornell, Harvard, MIT, Rutgers and undefeated Wisconsin hadcome from the east to race against Washington , California and British Columbia . They were racing on the home grounds of the University of Washington , the most famous college in present-day rowing. Six crews were coached by former Washington oarsmen and all were racing in boats made by George Pocock of Washington, No. 1 U.S. shell designer. Every crew but Wisconsin 's rowed with variations of the Washington stroke, a quick pull and a fast recovery invented in 1907 by Washington 's famous crew coach Hiram Conibear. As the race started, Washington went into the lead and the crowds went wild. At the halfway mark, Cornell passed them, and the race finished with Cornell first, MIT second, Washington third and Wisconsin , the favorite, fourth.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer , wrote:
They were hailing Cornell as the sprint champion of American rowing today, as the eight set of oarsmen rested from their strenuous efforts of the previous afternoon. The splendid performance of the Ithacans thrilled the greatest crowd which watched ever saw a sports event in Northwest history. Coach Allen Walz of favored Wisconsin conceded that the Badgers might have come in better than fourth had the Badgers not become confused 50 feet from the finish line and let up on their oars momentarily (the finish line barge had blown 50 feet inside the actual finish line). ‘But we certainly wouldn't have overhauled Cornell,' Walz declared. Many visiting crewmen who were not scheduled to depart until today relaxed yesterday by visiting Mount Rainier or salmon fishing in th Sound.
Carlyle Fay, UW coxswain that day, remembers the power boats lined up on the outside border of the course with the crew race between the power boats and the shore. When the race was ended, all the power boats revved up and went home, causing large wakes in all directions. Wisconsin , trying to find a clam way home, headed toward shore but was swamped by all the power boat wash. As the shell began to sink deeper in the water, Dick Tipple said to his mates, “I can't swim.” Carl Holz, deciding maybe he should get out of the boat and stabilize it from the water, jumped out and found the water only knee deep. The crew than all exited the boat, carried it through the streets and neighborhoods of Seattle until they came to calmer water nearer the boathouse. They then put the shell back in the water and rowed home.
The Seattle Invitational Sprint ‘post season' regattas were only held in 1946 and 1947.
Henry J. McCormick, sports columnist for the Wisconsin State Journal would write the following week,
There were many reasons why it would have been surprising for the Badgers to win at Seattle . Here are some of them:
" Because of a failure in planned air travel, Wisconsin was unable to reach Seattle until Thursday night where original plans had called for an arrival early Thursday morning and two hard workouts that day.
" Wisconsin, through its representative in Seattle, H. C. Weber, drew Washington shell called Husky II; it was 11 years old, the most ancient in the race.
" The Badgers drew lane No. 6, and the regatta was rowed on choppy water and into a headwind, giving the crews on the inner and more sheltered lanes an advantage.
This No. 3 point can be illustrated quite graphically by a chart of the lanes used and the order of the finish, as follows:
Eliminate British Columbia, which seems to have been pretty much outclassed, and you have a startling similarity between the order of the lane positions and the order of the finish.
The Badger crew members, after rowing their last race of 1946 at Seattle , motored to famous Mt. Rainier as guests of the Wisconsin Alumni Association of Seattle. The trip, under the able direction of “Hank” Weber, former Wisconsin oarsman ('32), was made on June 23, a few days after the opening of the famous mountain resort and national park. The alumni called for the crew members early in the morning. While waiting for the automobile to be loaded, the earth began to tremble and they all experienced the jarring, rocking movements of an earthquake. Glancing up the road leading to the Naval Air Station, the boys saw the slender lamp posts bend like drooping candles in a warm room. When the tremor passed the party started for Mt. Rainier . After snow ball fights at the resort, viewing the enthralling beauty stretching out into the immense space and dinner later that evening at the College Club in downtown Seattle , the boys flew east and home.
Roy Rom remembers that after the race, the crew disbanded for the summer. Carl Holz and Rom cashed in their air tickets and rode back to Minneapolis on a freight train, a three day trip and then a hitch hike back to Wisconsin . “We pocketed a little money.”
Coach Allen Walz did a great job in leading the Badgers to their best season in history, while Carl Holtz was rated as one of the best strokers in recent years by eastern experts. Of the 1946 boat Walz, interviewed in 1977, said, “The men in the boat made the 1946 varsity eight successful. They were a big crew, averaging 6'3” and 180 pounds. And they were all rowing veterans of the 1941-42 season.”
|1946 UW Varsity||Class||Age||Height||Weight|
|4||Gordon Grimstad||‘48||20||6'3 ½”||190|
|7||Dick Tipple||‘49||20||6'1 ½”||196|
Senior Chester Knight (bow seat), a bomber pilot in WW II, was awarded the George Gross Trophy “given to a junior or senior who has been an inspiration to the crew.”
Carl Holtz ('47) was selected to the All-American college eight in 1946. The Wisconsin Alumni Association also awarded Holtz the Walter Alexander Award of $100 to the junior athlete who “measures up most conspicuously” in character, sportsmanship and financial need. Alexander has been giving the $100 award for some years. In the late fall, Carl Holtz was awarded the check as the “outstanding athlete of the university” by the Wisconsin Alumni Association. The check was presented by Walter Alexander, formar captain of the UW crew in 1896.
On October 15, 1946 , Walz resigned to become the head crew coach at Yale. He had “come to terms with Wisconsin not so long ago, but the Yale financial offer was to flattering to resist.” His record while UW's crew coach indicated only nine losses in 34 races since 1940. He was succeeded as head crew coach, effective December 1, 1946 , by Norm Sonju. Assistant Coach Roy C. Rom filled in as interim coach until February of 1947 when Norm Sonju was named head crew coach. Mr. Rom then joined Coach Walz at Yale.
Another Holtz news clipping from the fall of 1946 showed the first freshman boat as being Francis Spencer (bow), Bill McAvely, Lynn Garth, Jack Leverentz, John Blom, Bill Helm, Jack Helm, Greer McVrathnem (stroke) and Allen Roberts (coxswain). The second freshman boating: Jack Crow (bow), Chuck bentson, Chuck Sterns, Bill Sachse, Wes Kahn, Bill Hibbard, Tom Junge, Bill Jung (stroke) and Ted Steiner (coxswain). The second varsity boating: Bob Herman (bow), Frank Harris, John Leverson, Bill Horvath, Otto Uhan, Jacob Valentine, Gerald Gredler, Bob Anderson (stroke) and Richard Kennedy (coxswain). The varsity: Ralph Falconer (bow), Richard Tipple, Fred Suchow, Gordie Grimstad, Leroy Jensen, Dick Miller, Bill Phelan, Carl Holtz (stroke) and Carlyle Fay (coxswain).
January 18, 1977 , UW's 1946 crew, and Coach Allen W. Walz, were inducted into the Citizens Athletic Foundation's Hall of Fame (formerly the Helms Athletic Foundation, founded by Paul Helms, Sr. and W. R. “Bill” Schroeder on October 15, 1936 ). An award ceremony was scheduled to coincide with UW's annual rowing banquet at the Edgewater Hotel for January 22, 1977 . Dick Tipple's not-so-subtle invitation letter dated December 21, 1976 (and previous telephone calls) encouraged everyone's presence and further advised that “there has never been an occasion where a living honoree has not been in attendance to accept the honor. Enough said.” Chester Knight believes Coach Skip Walz had a hand in the election.
Allison Danzig of the New York Times, who wrote an article titled "Wisconsin's Eight Victor at Ithica" on June 2, 1946 (pg 1) that described Wisconsin's Eastern Sprints race in which Wisconsin won. University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni who are members of the Wisconsin Alumni Association can access the New York Times Archive without charge through the WAA's website at http://www.uwalumni.com/libraries/about.html to access the ProQuest database.
Winter workout, 1946
Eastern Sprints win news clipping
Wisco v Penn
After Eastern Sprints win
After Sprints Win
Paul Klein, varsity 2-seat.
Gordon Grimstad, varsity 4-seat
Dick Tipple, varsity 7-seat
Dick Mueller, varsity 6-seat
Chester Knight, varsity bow seat
Carl Holtz, varsity stroke
Carlyle Fay, varsity coxswain
Outside the UW boathouse
Postcard of Picnic Point and UW's agricultural buildings
Coach Walz, in the hat
Wisconsin Crew Corporation newsletter cover
Clipping from Milwaukee Journal of April 4, 1946
1946 crew honored in 1977
Wisconsin State Journal, January 23, 1977
Capital Times clipping (undated)
Coach Skip Walz (in hat) instructing the crew. At center is Roy Rom (arms folded, white socks) and at the far left is Joe Binder (whose family donated the single skull mounted in the Porter Boathouse's Community Room)
Thomas A. Blacklock
Joseph C. Binder
Ralph Busch, Jr.
George H. Elder
Ralph C. Falconer
Carlyle W. Fay
Gerald F. Gredler
Gordon T. Grimstad
Robert A. Hedges
Carl A. Holtz
A. Le Roy Jensen
Richard Kennedy, Jr.
Paul J. Kleinschmidt
Chester T. Knight
Robert L. Lowe
Robert E. Moore
Richard E. Mueller
William G. Phelan
Robert I. Rathcamp
Roy C. Rom
James H. Smythe
Fred R. Suchow
Richard E. Tipple
Jacob M. Valentine, Jr.