It is the most popular state park in Wisconsin, known for its beauty and recreational options. From hiking to the top of its large bluffs, to rock climbing, swimming, fishing, canoeing and kayaking, camping, scuba diving and birdwatching, Devil’s Lake is a magnet for outdoor lovers. Now, add collegiate rowing to the list of activities.
For the second time in four years, the Wisconsin rowing program will host a race at Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo, with the May 2-3 competition featuring three women’s teams and six men’s programs.
Wisconsin, Boston University, MIT, Northeastern, Georgetown and Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) will compete on the men’s side, while the women’s races will include the Badgers, Michigan State and Minnesota. Racing begins Saturday at 9:30 a.m., with the final race of the day scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Just the men will race on Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. against Northeastern.
This will be the first time the women’s squad has raced at Devil’s Lake.
“We are pleased to be able to partner with the University of Wisconsin for this unique event,” said Dan Schuller, Wisconsin State Parks and Trails director. “There is actually precedent for this kind of competition at Devil’s Lake dating back to the late 1800s when races were held for the enjoyment of area resort visitors.”
“Racing at Devil’s Lake is something that (Wisconsin men’s) coach (Chris) Clark has been talking about for a long time,” UW women’s head coach Bebe Bryans said. “When I got up there as a hiker, with my dogs, just the beauty of the place and the length of the water looked just about right. Also when I was up there, the wind was blowing pretty hard and it was flat, or pretty flat, (on the water).
The men’s team previously raced at Devil’s Lake in 2012. After forecasting high winds on Lake Mendota for their races against Boston University, Dartmouth and MIT, the Badgers moved their races about an hour north.
“When we first approached the state park people in 2011 or 2012,” Clark said, “I didn't understand how state parks worked. I thought, it's a pristine place, it's the most popular state park, maybe they don't want anyone there, except people hiking and boating. I didn't realize they want the parks to have uses and as a revenue producer.”
The Wisconsin men will compete for the Jablonic Cup and Cochrane Cup, while the women will race for the Burnin’ Blade and The Hammer.
The Jablonic Cup is named after longtime UW head coach Randy Jablonic (1969-97) and has been contested by Wisconsin and Boston University since 1989. The Badgers have won 20 of 24 races, but BU currently owns a two-year win streak in the race for the cup.
The Cochrane Cup is named after Admiral Edward L. Cochrane, former president of MIT and director of the Navy’s Bureau of Ships. Wisconsin has raced for the cup since 1961 against Dartmouth and MIT, though this marks the third-consecutive year the competition will include just the Badgers and MIT.
UW owns victories in nine consecutive races for the Cochrane Cup, and 36 of 54 races all-time.
The Wisconsin openweight women will race for the Burnin’ Blade when they take on Minnesota. The schools have raced for the trophy for four years, with the Badgers winning three times, including last season. The trophy goes to the winner of the varsity eight race between UW and the Gophers.
In addition, the winner of the novice eight race between the two schools is awarded The Hammer. Wisconsin has won all four races in the rivalry.
Teams will launch from the south shore, which will also serve as the finish line.
Fans should enter the park near the South Shore Visitor’s Center. Entry fee is $7 for vehicles with Wisconsin license plates and $10 for out-of-state vehicles. More information is available at DevilsLakeWisconsin.com, including a map of the park and directions to the south shore, as well as at the official DNR web site for Devil’s Lake.