Erickson: Strong year for UW athletics not over quite yet

first_imgWhat a year it has been.Between toppling No. 1 Ohio State twice, a return trip to the Rose Bowl and a national championship, Wisconsin athletics has had a remarkable year.But for several sports, it’s not quite over.As the campus rejoices with the final hours of class while also dreading looming finals next week, seven Wisconsin teams are still competing.So if you find yourself missing some Badger athletics once you finish that last exam, softball, men’s and women’s track, women’s golf, men’s and women’s rowing and women’s lightweight rowing are still here.SoftballIf you haven’t already heard, the softball team is having a fairly decent season compared to its old mode of operation under former head coach Chandelle Schulte.The Badgers have notched a 27-22 record so far this season with a 6-10 Big Ten record. With four conference games left, UW could see one of its best Big Ten finishes in four years.Despite its success so far, the softball team still hasn’t achieved elite status. But if it finishes the season with a few more wins, the Badgers will have their best finish in several years, winning close to 30 games instead of losing close to 30 games.Men’s and Women’s TrackWisconsin is just entering conference and national championship meets. Heading into the week, the men’s squad holds a No. 39 ranking nationally by the USA Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, while the women’s team sits at No. 78.For the Badger men, distance and middle distance has been a bright spot this season with several individuals ranked in the top 25 nationally. Freshman Danny Block has also been making a name for himself with a No. 6 national ranking in discus.On the women’s side of the track, sophomore Dorcas Akinniyi, junior Jessica Flax and freshman Deanna Latham have held strong for Wisconsin in the heptathlon, with both Akinniyi and Flax in the top 25 nationally and Latham close behind.Women’s GolfFinishing fourth at the Big Ten Championship, the Wisconsin women’s golf team repeated last year’s notable finish. Adding to the success, head coach Todd Oehrlein was named Big Ten co-coach of the year.This weekend, the Badgers will look to make a run in the NCAA Regional round for the first time since 2003. As the No. 18 team in the field of 24, Wisconsin has a tough road – only eight teams qualify for a chance to tee off in the NCAA National Championship.But with two golfers ranking in the top 10 nationally, this could finally be the Badgers’ year to make an impression on the national level.Men’s RowingWhile I gave the women’s rowing team some special attention two weeks ago, the men’s rowing team is also making a name for itself as it heads into the final weeks of competition.With a No. 4 national ranking for its varsity eight boat, Wisconsin has had several notable wins this season, winning both the Jablonic Cup and Cochrane Cup for the sixth straight time. UW has hopes of winning another national title, which the Badgers last claimed n 2008.On campus, the men’s rowing team is gaining more notice. Junior Tim Aghai was named student athlete of the year at the annual “Buckinghams” Award Ceremony.Women’s RowingWisconsin just wants a repeat, and then some.With the Big Ten Championship coming up, the Badgers hope to capture the title for the second year running (or should I say, rowing?) while also getting faster and stronger for the National Championship regatta.Heading into the Big Tens, the Badgers are favored with their varsity eight recently being named Big Ten Boat of the Week.Finally getting to race on their home course, the Badgers defeated border battle rival Minnesota, which was the first full varsity race UW has hosted since 2002. The team didn’t want to waste the opportunity, especially against a conference rival.Women’s Lightweight RowingStandards are high for Wisconsin. The lightweight rowing team has won the IRA National Championship in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009; the Badgers are looking to get back on track this season after finishing second in 2010.With Wisconsin’s varsity eight currently ranked No. 3 nationally and around a month until it competes for another national title, UW has plenty of time to train – now that the weather is nice enough – on the water and return itself to its former glory.Men’s TennisThe team’s season may be over, but senior Marek Michalicka still has a chance to play for a national championship.Michalicka went 18-6 this season, holding strong for the Badgers at the No. 1 singles spot. He also led the team with doubles partner sophomore Billy Bertha, who went 18-5.Kelly is a sophomore intending to major in journalism. Can’t wait for summer and some badger sports? Let her know at kerickson@badgerherald.com.last_img read more