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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Crew members row through early mornings, grueling practice

The Men's Crew team in an 8+ shell during the Milwaukee River Challenge. Photo courtesy of Milwaukee River Challenge.

This is part of an ongoing series about intriguing individuals at Marquette.

For members of the Marquette crew team, rowing their boats down the Milwaukee River every morning before the sun rises generally does not involve the words “gently” or “merrily.”

The club team, currently celebrating its 20th year at Marquette, meets at the Michael J. Wisniewski Boathouse on the river each morning at 5 a.m.

“You never really get used to waking up,” club co-president Justin Richardson said before practice Wednesday morning.

The streets of Milwaukee were still dark as members arrived at the boathouse and began daily preparations for getting in the water, which include sweeping the dock and moving their sleek 54-foot, 125-pound, four-person boat into the water.

Men’s varsity coach C.J. Bown said the boats can reach speeds up to 20 miles per hour when the rowers go full speed ahead. Bown graduated from Marquette in 2006.

Richardson, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said he is one of the few members who rowed during high school and continued into college. Club co-president Kyle Stanley, a sophomore in the College of Communication, was also a rower in high school.

“(Rowing) is painful as hell,” Stanley said, describing the challenge of rowing up to 10,000 meters in a practice.

His teammates and coach were in general agreement.

“It’s a full-body workout,” Bown said.

Each semester, practices begin the first day of classes and end the first day of finals week. During a typical varsity practice, eight team members are in two boats, each along with a “coxswain,” who lies in the hull of the boat with his or her head sticking out while steering the boat and directing the rowers.

Bown said the team has outdoor practice until November. Then they move to an indoor facility, where the team uses rowing machines and lifts weights.

Kelly Maffei, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences, said the early morning practices “suck,” but that it helps to discipline the team mentally and physically.

Overall, the club is comprised of around 50 men and women, but only those on the varsity level participate in competitions. There are nine men on the varsity men’s team and 14 women on women’s varsity team.

Though Marquette Crew is a club sport, the team competes against varsity programs all around the country, Bown said.

“We are competing against people who go to school to row,” he said.

Joe Kriefall, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said he does Marquette Crew because it is a serious program that allows him and other rowers to compete.

Fall competitions are 5,000 to 6,000-meter races, and in the spring they are 2,000 meters.

The team has upcoming competitions in Rockford, Ill., Green Bay, Wis., Boston and Indianapolis in October.

Despite the early hours and substantial workload, Scott Budach, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, said he sticks with crew because he loves being on the water.

“It is very calming,” Budach said.

Some members also like the team’s physical demands. Tim Davis, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, jokingly said he joined crew because he went to the wrong meeting, but stuck with it because it helps keep him in peak physical shape.

Davis also said he enjoys the close-knit group that has formed amongst the varsity squad.

Jacob Dahleen, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, agreed with Davis’s assessment and also added that on a good day he might feel a “rower’s high” from the hard work.

When asked the best part about crew, John Albrecht, a senior in the College of Business Administration,was quick with a response:


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