Accomplished academically and athletically at Stoughton High School, Bronwynn Ziemann and Margaret Ross turned their attention to a new sport in college.

Ziemann competed for two years on the women’s rowing team at the University of Minnesota, while Ross had her freshman season at the University of Wisconsin cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ziemann grateful for Big Ten honor, time with Gophers

A 2018 SHS graduate, Ziemann was awarded the 2019-2020 Big Ten Conference Distinguished Scholar Award as a sophomore.

Big Ten faculty representatives established the Distinguished Scholar Award in 2008 to supplement the Academic All-Big Ten program. The recipients must be letterwinners in at least their second academic year at their institution and have a minimum grade-point average of 3.7 or higher for the previous academic year, excluding summer school.

“It means a lot because of all the work I put in over the last year,” said Ziemann, a biology major with a minor in Spanish studies. “It was amazing to receive that award.”

Ziemann made the Honor Roll in each of her four years at Stoughton and was the school’s top scholar and Badger Conference Top Scholar in 2018. She earned five varsity letters (three in track and field, two in tennis) as a Viking.

Ziemann went to Minnesota with the intention of being a student, but was quickly swayed into trying out a new sport.

“I was walking to a freshmen orientation event when a rowing coach handed me a flyer,” she said. “He told me I looked like a rower, so I tried out, made the team and loved it.”

The 5-foot-10 Ziemann made an immediate impact on the Golden Gophers’ novice team. She competed in eight events and was named Most Improved Novice Rower.

Ziemann competed on the varsity team as a sophomore. She was part of the Gophers’ 3V8 squad that placed second at the Head of the Mississippi.

Minnesota was in Tennessee for a week of training when the NCAA decided on March 12 to cancel all remaining winter and spring championships due to the pandemic. After careful consideration, Ziemann decided to step away from the program to focus on preparing for medical school.

“I gained an appreciation for hard work and I’m going to take that with me throughout life,” Ziemann said. “Rowing helped me a lot with time management.”

Ross embraces leadership role for Badgers

A four-year varsity letterwinner in both cross country and track and field at Stoughton, Ross felt the desire to continue her athletic career at Wisconsin.

The 2019 SHS grad was a four-time Division 1 state qualifier as part of the Vikings’ 3,200-meter relay and three-time Division 1 state qualifier in cross country.

“I originally thought about trying out for the cross country or track team, but I felt like I wasn’t ready to compete in those sports at that level,” she said. “So I went to a week-long rowing camp last summer. It felt so comfortable that it didn’t even feel like I was working out.”

The 5-foot-2 Ross serves as a coxswain – the member of the boat who sits in the stern facing the bow and the rest of her teammates. Rowers use oars to push against the water, their power and rhythm directed by the coxswain.

“Even though I’m not doing much physically, it’s still a difficult job and I have to use my competitive spirit,” said Ross, who was a two-time team captain in both cross country and track and field at Stoughton. “I was nervous about it at first, but it’s been really fun.”

Ross also continued her success in the classroom. A three-time Academic All-State Award winner at SHS, she recorded a 4.0 grade-point average in her first two semesters while double majoring in microbiology and Spanish.

Wisconsin had all five of its spring competitions wiped out by the pandemic. UW coaches broke the news to the entire boathouse on March 12, only hours before the team was scheduled to leave for Tennessee.

“My goal last season was to be a coxswain in the freshmen boat at the conference championships,” Ross said. “Looking at next year, I’d just like to get more time in the boat – whether that’s with varsity or JV. I just want to improve and become more comfortable as a leader on the team.”