With the national championships looming, Wisconsin’s ladies of the lake are preparing for huge meets this weekend. Saturday, the women’s openweight boat will be competing at the Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor, Mich., and the lightweight team will be competing at Princeton in a regular season dual meet.At Lake Carnegie in New Jersey, the lightweight team will compete against a No. 1 team that they have not yet faced this season. Despite that lack of familiarity, the two squads will meet again twice more this season, once at the Eastern Sprints competition and one last time at the IRA National Championships. Currently, the Badger lightweight team is ranked fifth in the nation, but facing highly ranked opponents like Princeton make the possibility of a national championship trophy coming back to Porter Boathouse very real.The lightweight team hasn’t looked back since their sweep at Austin in all six of the events raced there. At that time, the team was ranked No. 19, and they’ve come a long way since then, finishing second at the San Diego Crew Classic and performing very well at the Knecht Cup here in Madison.The openweight team’s season is beginning to wind down, seemingly just after their home lake’s ice thawed. The time they have had on Lake Mendota has by no means been wasted, however. When describing the advantage of working on the lake as opposed to working inside the boathouse, coach Bebe Bryans had one word to describe it: huge.“We’ve been working really hard all year,” Bryans said. “It’s just (moving outside) we’ve been able to row. We’ve been able to work on our race plans and work on our boat speed, which you can’t do unless you’re out on the water.”The Badgers seem to be doing well despite their lack of outdoor practice. Though not nationally ranked, the openweight team performed well at the Longhorn Invitational against Texas, then moved on to win all three of its events against Columbia in the UVA Invitational on Lake Monticello in Virginia April 13. Following that, the Badgers had a good showing in Columbus, Ohio for the Big Ten Challenge. Wisconsin won 10 events out of the 12 it competed in, sweeping Indiana and picking up victories in races versus Ohio State, ranked No. 14 in the country.With that successful set of races behind them, the UW openweight team hopes to stride into the Big Ten Championship with the same amount of success.“Obviously, we’d like to win, and I don’t think that anything is out of the realm of possibility,” Bryans said when asked what she expected of the team at the Big Tens. “Our goal is to perform better than last year at this time as far as power, speed and really executing our race plans well, to be the best we can be on that day.”The rowers themselves echo the sentiments of their coach.“I think we really just want to improve on last year’s results,” senior captain Shayla Dvorak said.The feeling that the team is on their way to a higher finish than last year’s fifth place at the championship is also rampant.“Definitely, I think that we could be top three and hopefully win it. I think we really have a good chance to,” Dvorak said. “We lucked out on having really great water recently and have been able to row a lot.”Time is boiling down toward national championship time for both the lightweight and openweight teams. The lightweight team is positioning themselves in the national rankings with the IRA National Championships coming up in the beginning of June. The openweight team, however, has until just the end of May when their championships take place. Obviously, the Big Tens will play greatly into the preparation for that.“Every race is important,” Bryans said. “We have one more big race after Big Tens, which is the ultimate decider. But if you’re strong at Big Tens, both for your own mental state and for the selection process, it’s always helpful to be fast.”There is also confidence abounding at the Porter Boathouse as the season winds down.“I think we can race with anybody,” Bryans said.