John Hunter Regatta – a Spring Break Recap

The team’s week long stay in Gainesville Georgia ended with a successful set of races at the John Hunter Regatta! After a week of practice on Lake Lanier, races started of on Saturday March 25 with the finals qualifiers; a close mid-pack race allowed the Men’s V8 to finish 3rd behind Georgia Tech and Emory with a time of 6:29.1, edging out Northwestern with a time of 6:29.4. The team’s second race featured the Men’s Novice 4 A and B crews. Each crew finished 5th in their heat, with a time of 7:43.2 and 8:31.4 respectively. The Novice Women’s 4 finished with a time of 8:50.4 ahead of Florida A with a time of 9:19.0. The final morning races featured the Men’s Lightweight 4 (7:47.4), the Varsity women’s 4(8:58.4) and the Women’s Lightweight 4 (8:59.2), who finished, 4th, 4th and 5th respectively.

The afternoon races commenced with the Men’s V8 in the Petite Final, finishing fourth with an overall time of 6:39.8, closing the previous 10 second gap between DePaul (3, 6:35.0). The second race featured the Men’s Novice 8, who earned themselves a spot in the Petite Final with a time of 6:49.1. An excellent race by the Novice Women’s 8 earned them a spot in the Grand Final, finishing first with a time of 7:55.9, second to Florida B. The Men’s Novice 8 Petite final saw the men finish 4th with a time of 7:18.1. The team’s final race featured the Novice Women’s 8 in the grand final, in which they finished 3rd with a time of 8:01.9.

The team will continue to work hard in preparation for upcoming regattas!

Spring 2017 Tryout Information Posted!

Are you interested in joining the Men’s or Women’s Rowing Teams for the Spring 2017 season?

Tryouts start on January 23rd for both Women and Men and will last for one week. For more details, check out the recruiting page.

All interested athletes are encouraged to tryout. We will go through introductory sessions to show all new athletes the basics of rowing.

Final 6k Test of Season Recap

The team finished off the fall season on Wednesday with the last 6k test of the year. A successful test with 24 PRs! Some standout performances on the men’s side from Mike Coumans (’18) – now 5th on the all-time men’s 6k record board and only 6 seconds behind the current 3rd place time held by Nate Tucker (’16), and Danny Stumpf (’20) who is now on the men’s novice record board with the 8th fastest novice time.

On the women’s side, Alyse Bondarowicz (’20) is 11th overall on the women’s record board with the 7th fastest novice time, Jo Hannah (’20) is 8th overall on the women’s record board with the 5th fastest novice time, and Allison Schroeder (’17) is the new women’s team 6k record holder with a time of 23:03.2 beating former standout, Dani Saubert’s, time in 2012 by more than a full split second.

The team will continue to be working hard over winter break in preparation for a fast and fierce 2k season next spring!

Bald Eagle Collegiate Invitational

Team arrived at the course. Getting boats rigged for the first race at 10:15

Women’s Varsity ‘A’ four was the first boat out and came through the line at 19:36.10, the ‘B’ four finished in 18:25.90. 

The Novice Men’s 8 ‘A’ boat put up a competitive 15:53.60 edging out DePaul once again. The ‘B’ eight finished in 17:16.00. 

Women’s Novice ‘A’ and ‘B’ eights rowed the course in 18:24.20 and 19:30.40 respectively. 

Men’s Varsity ‘A’ four finished in 16:44.70. The ‘B’ came through with a 16:26.60. 

Women’s Varsity 8 ‘A’ placed third in their race over DePaul and Marquette with a 16:48.60. ‘B’ boat came in with a 19:02.60

The last races of the day, the Men’s Varisty eights saw some solid competition with the ‘A’ boat finishing the day with a 14:48,50 and ‘B’ coming in with a 16:00.0. 

Chicago Boat Race Recap

Women Sweep 8+’s, Men’s V8+ edged out by DePaul.

Illinois Rowing had a successful race Sunday at the Race4Row Chicago Boat Race. Together, Illinois and DePaul University raised a total of $49,000 for Recovery On Water (Row). Abby Zacker, Will Klock, Marianna Huang, Emma Shanleigh, and Max McCarthy represented Illinois alongside the other top fundraisers from DePaul and ROW in a 500 meter sprint at the conclusion of the day of racing.

Despite a few mechanical issues, the women’s team had a very strong showing on the water. The Varsity Women’s 8 finished ahead of DePaul with a time of 16:30.23. The JV Women also finished ahead of DePaul’s JV Women with a time of 18:13.89. Novice Women in the A boat finished first with a time of 17:44.14 while some mechanical issues held back the Novice Women B boat. Regardless, they stayed strong throughout the race and finished with a time of 25:21.91.

On the men’s side, the varsity boat got edged out by DePaul with a time of 14:11.01 while the JV boat finished ahead of DePaul in 14:50.89. In some close races, Novice Men in the A boat finished behind Depaul A with a time of 15:21.34 while the B Novice Men pushed past Depaul B with a time of 15:47.75.

Head of the Charles: Sunday Afternoon Update

The Men’s Collegiate 4+ has completed racing. Unofficial results place them in 31st overall. Women’s Collegiate 8+ finished 23rd in their event, passing several crews en route and advancing their position one spot over their starting number of 24.

Head of the Charles: Sunday Morning Update

Noon Update: No delays so far, but crews have been restricted to launching no earlier than 45 minutes prior to racing. The winds continue to increase in speed and the warm-up area and the Charles Basin has been closed to crews. Men’s 4+ launched at 12:30pm.

The Illinois Crews are gearing up for the day’s rowing. Today, upwards of 25,000 spectators will line the Boston and Cambridge banks of the Charles River to watch the day of racing. The morning will focus predominantly on juniors rowing before giving way to the collegiate and elite events in the afternoon.

Men’s Collegiate 4+

  • Starts at 1:15pm
  • The Illini will be starting in the #13 spot.

Women’s Collegiate 8+

  • Starts at 3:31pm
  • The Illini will be starting in the #24 spot.

A live stream of the race can be found at

As opposed to the deluge of rain the racers saw yesterday, today will be sunny; however, strong winds will peak in the afternoon when the Illinois Crews will be on the water. The winds will make an already difficult course more challenging for the coxswains piloting their shells. In addition to navigating the multiple turns and bridges of the Charles River, the coxswains will also need to dodge crews as they pass one another along the course. The Head Race format (typical of Fall racing) means crews start single file with only 15-20 seconds of separation between crews at the start. As the race evolves, coxswains must carefully pass while trying to take the shortest (and therefore fastest) course down the river. This is not trivial as the constant turns of the course mean that attempting to pass on the inside of the turn can quickly evolve to having to row more distance on the outside of the next turn if passing takes too long.

In preparation for this race, the Illinois coxswains have been studying the course. From watching videos, to studying satellite maps of the course, to practicing and touring the course in the days leading up the race, the coxswains have prepared themselves as well as possible. It will now be up to their abilities, and those of their rowers, to navigate the turns, crews, and bridges of the Charles River.

Head of the Charles: Saturday Noon Update

The Fighting Illini crews in Boston are having a rest day, but their coaching staff is seeing action in several events. Assistant Coach Nate Colgan is starting the day rowing for his Alma Mater MIT in the Mens Alumni 8+. Novice Women’s Coach Michelle Victora is coxing MIT in the next event, the Women’s Alumni 8+. Finally, Assistant Coach and Program Director Bill Grier is rowing for the Michigan Alumni in the Men’s Club 8+. Assistant Coach Samantha Polak will be going off as bow #1 in the Championship Women’s 4+ for the New York AC on Sunday.

The Fighting Illini, who practiced on the course Friday, will be going off Sunday afternoon. The Illinois Men’s Collegiate 4+ (1:15pm) will be starting the Sunday’s racing for the Illini. The Men’s crew will be starting with bow #13 in the top half of the pack. The Men’s 4+ qualified for this event last year and will be looking to improve on their placing from last year. The Women’s Collegiate 8+ will follow at 3:31pm starting with bow #24. This is the first time Illinois has raced an 8+ at the Charles and will be looking to cement their presence in this event by finishing in the top-14 to earn a qualifying spot for next year.

Racing updates will continue throughout the weekend.

Welcome to the Fall 2016 Novice Class!

We are excited to announce the formal addition of the Fall 2016 novice class to the Illinois Rowing Teams! All of the trialists went through three weeks of on-water and ergometer training and evaluations, concluding with a 4,000m test on the erg. This is a very promising young group and is the largest novice class in Illini Rowing history! The online team roster has been fully updated.

  • Andrew Bocklund
  • Sebastian Conybeare
  • Joseph Dillier
  • Henry Doyle
  • James Gustafson
  • Alex Kim
  • Tim Klein
  • Jacob Malak-Ismail
  • Rio Martinez
  • Robert Molloy
  • Ben Norgle
  • Aleck Poradowski
  • Raymond Roglans
  • Michael Sheih
  • Craig Soares
  • Joseph Spina
  • Danny Stumpf
  • Nathan Zurcher

Novice Women

  • Mackenzie Barnhart
  • Alyse Bondarowitcz
  • Deliah Bradley
  • Allyson Brooks
  • Nerja Cuplinskas
  • Kastiania Dahlen
  • Stephanie Eilts
  • Emma Elmiger
  • Camille Farruggio
  • Keira Frese
  • Jenne Goeke
  • Marianne Huang
  • Jen Hustedt
  • Diana Kowalski
  • Violetta Montanez
  • MK Nastali
  • Veronika O’Donnell
  • Heidi Pierce
  • Summer Robbins
  • Jo Hannah Sage
  • Maura Smith

Novice Coxswains

  • Noah Apao
  • Mitalee Bharadwaj
  • Mary Marsh
  • Nicky Ou
  • Zoe Potts

2016 Tryout Information Posted

Tryouts start on Aug 23rd for Women and Aug 24th for Men. Schedules are posted on the recruiting pages: Women | Men.

All interested athletes are encouraged to tryout. Introductory sessions start the first week of classes – see schedules for details.

New Website

The Fighting Illini Rowing Clubs will be bringing news to you through our new website. The new website is more accessible adding improved functionality for mobile devices, meaning you can get more updates anywhere. The new systems also make it easier for the team to update content on the road meaning more information about races as they happen. We look forward to bringing you more news as it happens this season!

Thank you for continuing to support our crew!

Illinois Rowing has a New Truck!

Thanks to our generous friends, family, and alumni, we were able to raise enough funds to purchase a new truck! The coaches just picked up a 2014 RAM 2500 diesel that should last the team for many years and miles to come.

ACRA 2016

This year, Illinois took 6 different boats down to Georgia for the ACRA championships. These included a Varsity 8, Novice 8, and double on the men’s side and a Varsity 4, Novice 8, and pair on the women’s side.

The weekend was filled with exciting and close racing with some particularly strong performances. The men’s varsity 8 took 2nd in the D-final of a historically strong field. Similarly, the novice men’s 8 raced hard but were just edged out by DePaul to take 4th in the C-final.

On the women’s side, the novice women’s 8 came together for their best race of the year to take 4th in the B-final. The varsity women’s four, racing as a lineup for the first time after injuries left us without a full 8, pushed through some tough crews and just nicked WashU at the line to take 5th in their B-final.

To add a little bit of drama to the weekend, the varsity women’s pair of Kat Rains and Lindsey Cusack was in the lead in their repechage, in clear position to make the grand final, when an old knee injury reared its head as they faltered across the finish line in second. On Sunday, determined to finish on a strong note, the pair lined up for the start of the B-final and raced neck and neck with UC Davis down the course, well ahead of the rest of the competition.  They slowly extended a small lead in the second half of the race and managed to hold off a desperate sprint from the Aggies to win the petite final!

This marks the final race for a number of senior athletes who have given their all to the team over the last few years:

  • Lizzie Diamond
  • Andrew Holm
  • Billy Hrabak
  • Michael Lyons
  • Kevin McGing
  • Christopher Murphy (novice)
  • Katharina Rains
  • Nathan Tucker

Additionally, we are excited to announce that Andrew Holm has been named to the ACRA Great Lakes All-Region Team and ACRA All-American First Team.

Finally, in a true showing of what it means to be a student athlete, the Illini had 4 First Team Academic All-Americans and 5 Second-Team

First Team

  • Dana Brecklin
  • Justin Baker
  • Abby Mackay-Zacker
  • Christopher Murphy

Second Team

  • Kevin McGing
  • Allison Schroeder
  • Jennifer Buschbach
  • Savannah Henderson
  • Kathleen Hu

This concludes a great year for Illinois Rowing and we can wait for the fall season to start up again!

Full results can be found here.

Introducing the new Illinois Rowing Association

After a long wait, we are excited to announce that the team’s official alumni association has finally been officially incorporated! This will serve many purposes as it will finally allow us to:

  • Properly insure all of our boats and equipment
  • Build up important infrastructure like a permanent 2K course and boathouse
  • Officially hire and employ full-time coaches
  • More efficiently fundraise and track donations made to the team

For more information, please visit the donate section of the website.

Notre Dame and Minnesota Double Dual

On Saturday, the Illinois men hosted a double dual with Minnesota and Notre Dame. two strong club programs with rich histories. While the Illini didn’t come away with any victories on the day, there was a lot of good racing, especially with the Varsity 8 easily handling Notre Dame’s 2V after a poor showing against Minnesota with a new lineup earlier. The crews showed that they were able to hang in with the stronger, more experienced teams and are now ready to tune up for the ACRA Championships next month.

Full results can be found here.

Illinois Collegiate Rowing Invitational

This year marked the fourth annual Illinois Collegiate Rowing Invitational and it turned out to be the biggest and best event we have hosted so far. In total, 12 different teams attended from 6 states, with North Park, St. Thomas, and Kansas State all attending for the first time.

With three fully-buoyed lanes, stake boats, a starters platform, and multiple referee boats, the races ran on time and with minimal hitches. Thanks to all of our volunteer support, much of the burden was taken off the athletes so that they could just focus on racing during the day.

Not only was the event a success, but the Illini came home with a lot of medals as well:


  •  Men’s V8
  • Women’s JV8


  • Men’s JV8
  • Men’s Novice 8
  • Men’s Novice 4
  • Women’s Novice 8

Additionally, both the women’s Varsity 8 and Varsity 4 both took 4th in their respective events. All in, the total points allowed the Illini to bring home the Men’s team points trophy, Overall team points trophy, and the State of Illinois Championship Trophy for the 4th consecutive year!

Full results can be found here.

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We need your help!

Unfortunately, our trusty team truck has met its end just short of 300,000 miles. On the way up to Michigan for the Lubbers Cup, repairs that were made to the engine last spring ended up failing. We were able to get the trailer to the race venue and the truck to a shop, but it turns out that the repairs are well beyond our current means and do not make sense given the current age of the vehicle.

Luckily, the coaches at Grand Valley allowed us to borrow their truck to help get our trailer back home, but we are in desperate need of a new tow vehicle to get our racing shells to and from our upcoming races.

We have created a GoFundMe campaign to raise enough money for a down-payment on a new truck that will hopefully last the team for many years to come. Any and all help is appreciated.

Additionally, if you know of suitable vehicles that may be available or any dealerships who may be able to assist us, please contact coach Bill at

Don Lubbers Cup 2016

After spending the last weekend in sunny San Diego, the varsity boats returned to the Midwest to join the rest of the team heading up to chilly Spring Lake, Michigan for the Don Lubber’s Cup against the likes of Grand Valley, Michigan, Purdue, Notre Dame, among others. Each crew was scheduled to race three times on the 1900m course over Saturday and Sunday against a variety of different crews.  Unfortunately, mother nature had different plans, and many of the races had to be shortened, delayed, or even cancelled.

Prior to the weather complications, the men’s varsity 8 had a strong first race, coming out ahead of both DePaul and Case Western. The varsity women’s 8 ended up falling to those same two teams. The novice men also had a good showing, taking second to Michigan State and beating the Michigan 3F and DePaul. In an unfortunate series of events, the novice women’s 8 ended up breaking an oar and were forced to row their first race by 7. The men’s open 4 then concluded the morning racing taking second to Case Western ahead of Cincinnati.

The Saturday afternoon races ended up being delayed until the late evening and the fours races were cancelled. Once again, the varsity men’s 8 had a good race, falling to Minnesota but edging out Case Western for the second time that day. The other crews did not fare quite as well after sitting outside in the cold temperatures all day. The two women’s eights put up valiant efforts but ultimately fell to varsity level crews in Eastern Michigan, Dayton, and Drake.

Sunday morning, everyone woke up to a thick layer of frost and ice. The conditions had not improved from the previous day, and only the varsity eights were able to race before the remainder of the event was cancelled. The varsity men’s 8 experienced the difficult conditions first hand and fell to Grand Valley, Cincinnati, and DePaul after multiple seats felling out of the tracks due to ice build-up.

Next week, we host the 4th annual Illinois Collegiate Rowing Invitational right here in DeWitt, IL on our home course.

Full results can be found here.

San Diego Crew Classic

This year, the men’s and women’s varsity eights made what it becoming an annual trip out to the San Diego Crew Classic to test themselves against some high-caliber west coast crews. Once again, this trip was made possible thanks to our generous hosts with the San Diego chapter University’s Alumni Association.

The athletes arrived on various flights on Thursday evening or Friday morning and then traveled to the course on Mission Bay to rig up the boats and practice on the notoriously unfair course. For those who are unfamiliar with Mission Bay, the changing tides, currents, and winds can put crews in the outside lanes at a significant disadvantage. This also marked the first year where we were able to transport our own shells and oars across the country to race.

Both crews raced in their heats on Saturday morning, with the men taking 6th, just behind UCLA and ahead of USC, which placed them in the Saturday afternoon 3rd-level final for the American Specialty Health Cup.

The women also raced well, placing 4th in their heat of the DII/DIII/Club division ahead of the Cal Berkeley lightweights. This strong race was enough to qualify them for Sunday’s grand final for the first time in team history!

In the men’s 3rd-level final the guys started out with a clear disadvantage out in lane 6, while the crews in the more favorable lanes 1-3 jumped out ahead. In a valiant effort, the guys were able to distance themselves from Sacramento State and Long Beach State in lanes 4 and 5, but the conditions were too much to overcome to get into the top three positions.

On Sunday morning, the women lined up for the final for the DII/DIII/Club 8 after a long fog delay. Unfortunately, the conditions and level of competition proved to just be too much, and they placed 8th.

Saturday Results

Sunday Results

Vanderbilt and Mercyhurst Dual

After spending the week in Georgia, the team stopped over in Nashville on the way home to race against Vandebilt and Mercyhurst, who was also en route home from their spring training trip. In the double-dual, each team raced the others head-to-head in two separate races. The Illini’s first opponent was Mercyhurst, a DII varsity program, with Mercyhurst taking the MV8, WV8, MV4 and the Mercyhurst 2Vs beating Illinois’ novice 8s.

The team matched up much better against Vanderbilt, with the men’s varsity 8 winning by just under a boat-length and the women falling by the same margin.  Unfortunately, Vanderbilt has a much smaller novice squad this year and was limited to just a men’s novice 4, which came out ahead of the two fours made up of the men’s novice 8. Overall, it was a great race, especially for the novice men who were racing fours for the first time and for the varsity men who got to take home some shirts.

Up next, the varsity eights will be training hard to get ready for San Diego next weekend.

Men’s Results
Women’s Results

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