Two University of Notre Dame rowing alumnae have been crowned World Champions.
At the 2018 World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, early Saturday morning, Erin Boxberger (’17) and Molly Bruggeman (’14) helped the United States Women’s Four (W4-) claim the world championship with a first-place finish in 6:25.570.
The victory returns the U.S. W4- to the world championship/Olympic gold medal podium for the first time since 2015.
Veterans of the U.S. Rowing development system, Boxberger and Bruggeman have claimed gold before at the U-23 level, but Saturday morning’s victory is the first gold medal victory for the two former Irish All-Americans at the senior/Olympic level.
The crew of Madeline Wanamaker, Boxberger, Bruggeman and Erin Reelick trailed slightly off the line but quickly moved into the top spot, building about a one-seat lead on Denmark at the 500-meter mark. The U.S. continued to press forward in the second quarter of the race, taking nearly a length on the Danes at the midway point, with the defending world champions from Australia sitting in third.
“We had a great heat and a great semi,” Bruggeman said. “Our plan was to execute our race plan and do it better. We wanted to stay very focused on us and what we were doing and not worry about what anyone else was doing. I think that really worked out for us. I wasn’t looking out the boat the whole time. I didn’t care what place we were in. I knew all I had to do was follow Reelick and pull as hard as I could.”
Australia pulled into second as the crews crossed into the final 500 meters, with the U.S. still holding about a length. While Australia cut off a bit of the deficit in the final sprint, the Americans came away with the 1.52-second victory with a time of 6:25.57. Australia won silver, with Russia coming back from sixth to win the bronze.
“It’s redemption from last year,” Bruggeman said. “We crossed fourth (in 2017), and (Erin and I) told ourselves that we never want to feel like this again. It feels so good right now. I never want to feel anything but this.”
The U.S. finished first in 6:25.570, ahead of Australia (6:27.090), Russia (6:27.360), Denmark (6:28.780), Poland (6:32.050) and China (6:39.850).