1968 Season

Norm Sonju
Norm Sonju
  David Ivska
David Ivska
 Results | Summary | W Winners 

Season Results

Cochrane 2
Eastern Sprints 5

Season Summary

Approval to demolish the old boat house was granted by the UW Board of Regents on January 12 th .

The new Badger boathouse (a $330,000 structure), with the only 16-man rowing tank in the country, on Babcock Drive at University Bay was completed, complete with an indoor rowing tank, before the start of the Spring season of 1968. “(The tank) has its limitations,” said Coach Sonju, above the roar of the water, “but it will get the boys in shape and teach them things about rowing that the old machines wouldn't.” This will be coach Sonju's last year as coach. He will retire after the 1968 season and move to Poulsbo , WA . An open house was planned for October 14, 1967 ; because of labor trouble over the summer, the dedication was delayed until spring.

The crew moved into the new crew facility in October, however, with the manager shuttling oarsmen by launch to the old boathouse for another shell, after each delivery to the new boathouse. Moving was complete by mid-November. Some 70 years equipment had to find new storage bins, racks and shelves in the new boathouse. Curt Drewes appreciated the new boat house as much as anyone. Moving into a shop that is well-lighted, heated and with hot water is like moving from a shack into the Waldorf.

The Olympic Committee selected UW as one of nine rowing centers to develop and improve the caliber of US rowing competition. It will be called the Midwest Rowing Center and will operate under the UW Athletic Department and Coach Randy Jablonic.

Mr. and Mrs. W. M. Chapman donated a trophy case for the new boathouse in memory of their son Tom Chapman, who was serving as an assistant crew coach at UW while attending graduate school. Their son was former UCLA crew captain killed in a plane accident leaving Madison on Thanksgiving vacation in the fall of 1966.

Fred Emerson donated a new eight shell built by Schoenbrod, a German shell builder with a shop in Georgetown , CT. The shell's hull is of Spanish cedar. Mr. Emerson had also furnished the shell used by UW at Henley last July.

March 9, the second annual crew banquet was held at the new Holiday Inn ( Cambridge Road ) in Madison , with the crew boat house open the afternoon of the 9 th .

Lake Mendota opened March 26, ten days earlier than usual.

The Badger crew competed April 27 on a 2,000-meter course on the Wabash River against the Purdue Boat Club and Purdue University . The UW JV-8 lost to Purdue B.C ( 5:34 vs. 5:38 ), while the UW Frosh ( 5:28 ) beat the Pursue JV ( 5:34 ) and freshman ( 6:00 ); UW's varsity did not compete.

In the May 2 Cochrane Cup on a 2,000-meter course on the Charles River , Dartmouth (6:30.3) beat UW (6:32.9) and MIT (6:38.5). “The varsity had a very exciting race with Harvard, ultimately losing by 0.2 seconds to the Crimson. The Harvard varsity ultimately went on to represent the US in the Mexico City Olympics of 1968 (the last year an entire college eight was taken as the Olympic team. Harvard won the silver medal).

In the May 11 Eastern Sprints, the varsity eight event was won by Harvard (5:54.5), followed by Penn (5:57.9), Yale (6:05.3), Northeastern (6:05.3), Wisconsin (6:10.6) and Rutgers (6:13).. The JV-8 did not qualify, while the freshman eight (6:20.9) was 8 th to winner Penn.

On May 18, at 2,000-meters on Lake Mendota , the UW JV-8 ( 5:07 ) beat Wayne State 's varsity ( 5:19 ) and the UW freshman eight ( 5:16 ) also beat Wayne State 's ( 5:26 ) second boat.

May 30, Norm Sonju's retirement dinner at the Park Motor Inn was organized by co-chairmen Dick Tippe and Don Peterson. The event was attended by Madison Mayor Otto Festge, UW Vice Chancellor James Cleary, Athletic Director Ivan Williamson and Clifford (Tip) Goes, a former Syracuse coxswain in 1910 and a national official in the IRA organization.

On June 9, on choppy waters of Lake Mendota , UW hosted a triangular meet against Washington and Navy. The 2,000-meter course was from Willow Bay to the foot of Lake Street near the Union . Washington and Wisconsin rowed bow-to-bow for the first half of the race as both pulled ahead of Navy. The Badgers held a slight lead at this half-way point. The Huskies then raised their stroke count to 40 and moved about a half-length in front. The Badgers ( 6:09 ) closed strong and finished almost a deck length behind Washington (6:08.5) at the finish. Navy ( 6:12 ) was less than a length behind for third. In the JV-8 race, Washington (6:26.7) won by open water over UW (6:31.3). UW's frosh (6:24.3) also lost to the Huskies (6:20.3). UW's varsity boating: Doug Sahs (bow), Gary Jacobson, Ron Kuehn, Joe Mimier, John Lorenz, Guy Iverson, Phil Resch, Phil Kurtz (stroke) and Dave Ivaska ( or Arnie Polk, as cox). One of the oarsmen of the day remembers seeing Coach Sonju, in front of the new, boathouse spending a bit of time discussing the cox's steering in the race against Washington .


At the IRA's:

At the urging of the Olympic Committee, for development purposes, in 1968 the IRA admitted small boats (initially, in 1968 and 1969, respectively, just the varsity 4+ as the fourth ‘event' ), to the schedule and all races were shortened to 2,000 meters, the Olympic distance. The IRA results before 10,000 onlookers over the three-day Olympic format were a sweep by Penn. In the varsity eights: Penn (6:15.6), Washington , Princeton , Northeastern, Rutgers and Brown. In the JV-8's: Penn (6:24.2), Orange Coast JC, Navy, Princeton , Syracuse and Stanford. In the freshman eights: Penn (6:18.6), Princeton , Dartmouth , Cornell , Washington and Navy. In the varsity fours plus cox: Cornell (7:24.4), MIT, Navy, Georgetown , Dartmouth and Trinity. Penn won the Ten Eyck Trophy, with Princeton second.

Wisconsin, which lost its No. 4 man to mononucleosis the day before the first heat, was 8 th of 12 in the varsity eight event, with a time of 6:30.2, in a photo finish behind UCLA (6:30.0) but ahead f Cornell (6:30.4); 13 th of 13 in the JV-8 event with a time of 6:46.2; 7 th of 11 in the Frosh eight race (6:38.4) and did not enter a boat in the Fours with cox event.

Following the 1968 season on June 30, and after twenty-two years as UW's head crew coach, Norm Sonju retired and Randy Jablonic, for eight prior years the freshman and assistant coach at Wisconsin , was named head crew coach. “Coach Sonju was really loved by his oarsmen (as was his successor, Randy Jablonic). He made a very positive contribution to the development of the young men who had the good fortune to be able to call him ‘coach.' ”


What to Look for in Rowing

Appraising an eight-oared crew is perhaps the most difficult role that the expert has to play in sports. However, according to the rowing experts, four major factors determine the run of the shell. These are: timing , form , power , and conditioning .

Naturally, an excellent run , the distance a shell is propelled by one stroke cycle, is the effect sought by all crew coaches. So the first thing to perceive is whether a crew makes its shell move, that is, whether it has a good or a poor run.

Coaches will say that there are a lot of good crews, but many of them row differently, that is their form varies. However, they all agree that the good news have excellent timing. If the crew's timing is off, the boat won't run. Look and see if all eight men hit the catch together. That is, do their blades all enter the water together? Also, watch the bodies of the crew – see if they all move in unison, or if there is a break. The former, naturally, spells results while a lack of uniformity means an additional check , therefore retarding the run. All good crews have power and drive, for it takes a certain amount of horsepower to move a given weight through water, and, of course, the oarsmen must be in top physical condition in order to keep their timing and form and power for the entire distance of a grueling race.

Crew coaches look for tall boys, for they can apply additional leverage, get a longer reach. However, size is not everything , especially if the individual oarsman doesn't have the other prerequisites - timing, form, power and condition.

-Syracuse (IRA) Regatta Official Program 1968 , p. 42.


Steven J. Bergum
William D. Blakely
Leo Burt
William R. Clapp
Michael Danley
William J. Evans, III
Gregory M. Farnham
Philip L. Fitzgerald
Robert H. Gibbs
Edward Goldschmidt, Jr.
Neil C. Halleen
John D. Halleran
Alan R. Horner
David J. Ivaska
Guy W. Iverson
George W. Jackson
Gary H. Jacobson
Kent A. Kautzer
Ronald W. Kuehn
David J. La Luzerne
Donald E. Lange
Bruce Larson
John C. Lorenz
Greg A. Margulies
Timothy C. Mickelson
Joseph E. Mimier
John I. Norsetter
James G. Ozark
Arnold S. Polk
David J. Quam
Phillip E. Resch
Robert E. Rottman
Douglas A. Sahs
David J. Storm
Kenneth A. Struckmeyer
Thomas W. Sy
Lewis Turner, Jr.
James H. Tonn
Alan L. Whitney


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