1981 Season

Randy Jablonic
Randall Jablonic
  Beau Hoopman
Thomas Kirk
 Results | Summary | W Winners 

Season Results

San Diego 8
Midwest 3
Cochrane 1
Eastern Sprints DNQ

Season Summary

The Head of the Charles, rowed under a stiff headwind, was won by Navy (15:26.8), followed by Osnabruker of West Germany (15:39.4) and Harvard (15:42.8); Wisconsin finished 11 th. The UW eight boating was Matt Franke (Cox), Voran Karajalic (Stroke), Brian Frohna (No. 7), John Strur (6), Dan Royal (5), John Jablonic (4), Ned Kline (3), Brian Steinbrecher (2) and Steve Borcherding (Bow).

March 14, the 26 th annual Wisconsin Rowing Banquet was held at the Sheraton Inn. Elroy Hirsch attended and welcomed the group. Gold medallist Emory Clark ( Tokyo 1964) was the guest speaker.

At the San Diego Classic on April 4, 1981, Washington (5:44.8, a course record) won the 2,000-meter distance, with Yale second. In the petite final, Wisconsin (6:03.6) was second (8 th overall) behind Oregon State (6:00.6); the two were followed by Cal-Irvine, Penn, British Columbia and Brown. .

At the Midwest Rowing Championship on Lake Wingra April 25, UW’s varsity eight (6:06.7) was third behind Purdue (6:00.7) and Wayne State (6:06.5); UW’s JV-8 (Wisco “B”) was fourth in the same race. “We’ve never lost to Purdue and I’m incensed by today’s loss,” said UW coach Jablonic.

Wisconsin (5:57.3) won the JV-8 event, followed by Wayne State (6:15.1) and Michigan State (6:28.8). Purdue (6:16.4) also won the freshman eight event, followed by Wisconsin (6:19.3), Kansas State (6:59.4), Kansas University (7:04.4), with Michigan and Notre Dame disqualified.

In the Cochrane Cup on the 2,000-meter Connecticut River in Hanover, N. H. on May 2, the Badgers (5:44.5) narrowly defeated Dartmouth (by 0.2 seconds, a 2 foot margin) and MIT (6:02.6). The UW boating was Mathew Franke (Cox), Douglas Berninger (Stroke), Aaron Jacob (No. 7), Ned Kline (6), John Streur (5), Dan Royal (4), John Jablonic (3), Dan Ripp (2) and Brian Steinbrecher (Bow). “It was a well-coxed race,” said Jablonic of Matthew Franke. “He seemed to sense the crew’s pace, and knew when to force the crew to swing (slow the stroke pace down to get more out of a swing out of the boat).”

At the Eastern Sprints May 17 on Lake Quinsigamond, Wisconsin’ s varsity eight (and MIT) did not make the Grand Final or Petite finals of six boats each. The varsity eight event was won by Yale (5:43.9, breaking Harvard’s record of 5:54.1 set in 1970) followed by Rutgers (5:46.2), Northeastern (5:46.9), Syracuse (5:47.2), Boston University (5:49.4) and Princeton (5:53.2). In the JV-8 contest, Wisconsin won the Petite Final (6 th overall, with Yale’s DSQ), with the Grand Final won by Cornell, followed by Navy, Rutgers, Northeastern, Syracuse and Yale (which was disqualified). In the freshman heavyweight eight event, UW’s freshman were 8 th overall, second to Navy in the Petite Final.

May 9 th was the day set for the annual spring crew picnic.

On May 30 th at Annapolis for the Walsh Cup, Navy’s varsity eight (5:42.0) - which led by a half-length at 500 meters and gained another length on Wisconsin over the each of the next 500 meters - defeated the UW (5:53.2) varsity by three lengths. Navy also won the JV-8, freshman eight and Freshman 4 + events. Wisconsin prevailed in the Varsity 4 + and the Varsity Pairs -. Of the varsity, Coach Jablonic said, “We failed to move the boat entirely. We were stumbling. We weren’t getting the rhythm and moving the boat properly.” The V4 + boating: Val Runge (bow), Konrad Opitz, Bob Raymond, Mark Hallett (stroke) and Matt Franke (cox).


At the IRA’s:

The New York Times had no coverage of the IRA’s on Sunday, June 7, 1981 (delayed a second year by 30 knot winds); Cornell (5:57.2) won the varsity eight race in 5:57.3, followed by Navy (6:01.5), Northeastern, Boston University, UCLA and Dartmouth. Wisconsin’s varsity was 8 th overall. (2 nd in the Consolation Final).

Wisconsin’s pair (Zoran Karaklajic and Tom Neczypor) won at IRA’s in time of 7:18.8; the varsity, junior varsity and freshman eights were each eighth in their respective events. The varsity four without cox collided with others twice over the regatta, the second time in the finals, where they were disqualified. Cornell (the “Big Red”) won the Ten Eyck; Wisconsin was fifth.

In July, on Lake Mendota, Randy Jablonic was head of the U.S. National team to select candidates for the national eight-boat and four with coxswain. While it was Jablonic’s first time as head coach, he had been assistant coach or manager for three national teams, including the one that went to the 1972 Munich Olympics. The World Rowing Championships are September 2-4, 1981 in Munich, West Germany.


The Ergometer

Because of the long winters and the resultant frozen rowing course on Lake Mendota for five months of the season, rowing machines and their cousins, the ergometer, have long played a major role in the training and evaluation of the rower at Wisconsin. In fact, erg machines probably play a bigger role at Wisconsin than at any other rowing power in the country, but perhaps for Cornell, where winters keep collegiate rowers off the water for similar periods. “Erg scores,” or either i.) the time it takes on the machine to cover a given distance - 500 meters, 2,000 meters or 10,000 meters - or ii.) the flywheel revolutions achieved over a fixed time period, are a part of the daily conversation among members of the crew.


Ergometer Strengthens Wisconsin

The ergometer has become about as important to a crew coach as a stop watch to a track coach.

What’s an ergometer?

Well, basically it’s similar to a rowing machine that people exercise on in a health club, But, the ergometer includes gauges that measures a man’s strength as he pulls the “oar.”

Wisconsin Crew Coach Randy Jablonic explains it this way: “The machine has a flywheel on it which has a brake shoe inside. The brake shoe has a measured amount of pressure. When the oarsmen starts to row, he spins the flywheel. Every time he pulls, a cable is wound up on a spool under the flywheel.

“When he relaxes and comes forward for the recovery, the cable rewinds itself in preparation for pulling again. The brake in that flywheel keeps slowing it down between strokes. It doesn’t stop it because you keep enough power on it to keep it going. But, as the oarsmen is rowing, you can measure, or count the number of revolutions. That against the braking force can be calculated into raw horsepower - the actual work load the man is performing.

“Suppose I take two men and they both row real well,” Jablonic continued, warming up on one of his favorite subjects, “and I can’t figure which one to put in that varsity boat. I’ll put them on that machine for a six-minute test. All other factors being equal, the man who gets the most revolutions is going to be the stronger man and you put him in the boat.

“It gets a little more tricky than that because we can have a guy who’s got immense horsepower but doesn’t have good technique and unfortunately the machine does not measure technique. All it’s doing is telling me ‘Jabo, that guy is so god awful strong you better coach him so he can move the boat or row well enough to win races.

“Maybe he’s the kind of guy you put in there and he’s thrashing around with all this horsepower and he doesn’t put it to moving the boat in the proper direction. He comes forward on the recovery and the boat hangs dead in the water because he isn’t controlling his rhythm.

“Then you can run into a guy who has beautiful technique but hasn’t any strength output, “ Randy added. “There the job is to try to encourage the boy to develop physiologically so he can meet the challenge of putting out more horsepower.

“It isn’t quite that simple either. Suppose I have two men who can spin that wheel for a given length of time equally. Suppose they can crank out 3,500 revolutions in six minutes. But, one man weights 170 pounds and the other 180. I’m going to take the lightest man in that case because the lighter the man in the boat the less water the boat displaces and the faster it will go.”

So weight becomes a factor, and Jablonic tinkers with all kinds of mathematical formulas, correlating strength and weight to determine who can move the boat best.

“To sit on a mechanical device and haul that machine from the rowing position is one thing, “Jabo said. “Then to go out onto the lake in a boat and with touch and finesse and feeling able to apply that power to moving the boat, you’re getting into quite a different matter.

“By most standards our crew is a little small side (in 1973), but they’re doing an exceptionally good job of rowing and they’ve worked hard to achieve not only the technique and performance, but the cardiovascular aspect of it. This crew averages about 6’3” and 186 pounds. A couple of years ago we had an awfully big crew, averaging 6’3 ½” and 205 pounds. But at that time we didn’t have the ergometer to tell us that we too much weight in the boat per horsepower being produced."

-Butler, Tom, “Ergometer Strengthens Wisconsin,” Wisconsin State Journal, June 15, 1973, Sports, p. 1.

(From the news clip collection maintained by the late Mrs. Jim (Helen) Dyreby, mother of the UW oarsman.)



Douglas Berninger
Brian Frohna
Mark Hallett
John Jablonic
Aaron Jacobson
Mark Johnson
Ned Kline
Steve Manicor
Konrad ("K.C.") Opitz
Robert Raymond
Daniel Royal
Val Runge
Brian Steinbrecher
John H. Streur
Charles Williams
Steve Zellmer


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