July 28, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Two University of Notre Dame rowing student-athletes were members of a pair of gold medal crews last week at the 2014 World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Varese, Italy. Recent graduate Molly Bruggeman and returning senior Erin Boxberger each raced to first place finishes with the United States four and eight lineups during the five-day regatta.
It was the second straight championships appearance for both Bruggeman and Boxberger competing for the U.S. team, the first time in program history that multiple Notre Dame rowers qualified for the World Rowing Under 23 Championships in consecutive years. Bruggeman, Boxberger, senior Ailish Sheehan (Ireland, 2013) and Amanda Polk (U.S., 2008) are the only current or former Irish student-athletes to have earned bids to the championship in team history.
The U.S. women’s four earned the top seed into the `A’ final on the first day of the regatta on Wednesday, racing to the line in a time of 6:59.81 to outpace runner-up France by nearly five full seconds (7:04.45). It was an even better outing for the four during the event final on Saturday, logging a final heat of 6:43.24 to claim gold over New Zealand (6:45.91), with Canada earning the bronze medal (6:47.42). It was the best finish for the U.S. women’s four at the World Under 23 Championships since placing first in 2010.
Both Bruggeman and Boxberger also qualified for the grand final with the U.S. eight on Thursday, helping the crew to claim the top overall time in the preliminary heats of racing by posting a 6:25.13 split to win heat one by more than four seconds over Great Britain (6:29.48). The U.S. eight squad took gold in the event for the sixth time in nine years on Sunday, registering a winning time of 6:07.88 to give Bruggeman and Boxberger a gold medal podium sweep for the week.
Notre Dame rowers have now earned a total of three gold medals at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships over the past two years, with Boxberger also winning with the U.S. women’s eight lineup at the 2013 championships in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria. Sheehan placed fourth in the women’s four alongside her teammates from Ireland in 2013, while Bruggeman finished in sixth place in the quadruple sculls at last year’s regatta.