April 1, 2006

The Notre Dame rowing team had several strong showings in the first day of competition at the prestigious San Diego Crew Classic on Mission Bay. Notre Dame’s varsity eight, which received the 22nd-most votes in the most recent national coaches poll, has advanced to Sunday’s grand final in that race (the Jessop-Whittier Cup), as has the Irish boat in the open eight race. Notre Dame rowers will compete in Sunday’s petite finals for the second varsity eight and novice eight competitions.

The varsity eight – comprised of coxswain Marina Romero and rowers Julie Sobolewski, Amanda Polk, Mary Quinn, Laura Pearson, Allison Marsh, Melissa Felker, Meg Boyle and Sarah Palandech – placed second in Saturday’s Heat B, finishing in a time of 6:28.53. The Irish trailed only 8th-ranked USC (6:24.80) while defeating four teams, including No. 9 Wisconsin (6:29.41) and 6th-ranked Stanford.

The top three teams from Heat B (USC, Notre Dame and Wisconsin) will be joined by the top Heat-A finishers in Sunday’s grand final race, at 11:35 a.m. PST. The University of California, the nation’s No. 2-ranked team, won Heat A in a time of 6:34.80, followed by 11th-ranked Washington State (6:25.45) and No. 15 UCLA (6:27.13). Notre Dame’s time was fifth-best among the 12 total teams competing in the varsity eight.

“It was great to come in on this day and race very competitively in the varsity eight. It was a great race and we defeated some quality opposition in the process,” said Notre Dame head coach Martin Stone, who will watch the Irish varsity eight row in lane three during the grand final.

Notre Dame’s open eight contingent posted the second-best time among 19 teams competing in that event, placing second in Heat A with a time of 7:09.30 that trailed only California (6:59.80) while finishing ahead of the San Diego Rowing Club (7:17.33), the Notre Dame alumni boat, St. Mary’s (Calif.), the UC Irvine alumni and Colorado. The open eight grand final will be held on Sunday at 12:10. Sarah Keithley is serving as coxswain of the Irish open-eight boat, which also includes Casey Fairbanks, Shannon Cassel, Betsy Madison, Brittany Burnham, Ashley St. Pierre, Lindsay McQuaid, Mary McNamara and Dani Leary.

The other entrants in the open eight grand final include California (the Heat-A winner), Heat-B teams River City (7:30.70) and Arizona Rowing (7:37.72), and the top teams from Heat C: San Diego State (7:20.40) and Riverside BC (7:20.94).

Notre Dame’s second varsity eight finished third in its heat (6:45.61), behind USC (6:42.60) and Wisconsin (6:43.60), with the Irish posting the seventh-best time among 17 overall teams in that competition. Notre Dame also was third – but sixth overall, among 23 teams – in Heat A of the novice competition (6:59.64), behind Cal (6:49.00) and Kansas State (6:56.49).

“We were fairly pleased with the second varsity eight race. It was a phenomenal race and we came up just short of making the grand final,” said Stone. “The novice eight had a good race as well and the open eight did a great job in advancing to their grand final. Our two boats that will be in the petite finals faced some tough competition today and came up just a bit short.

“We need to go out and race really well again tomorrow – but we are pleased with our kids and our effort and are looking forward to the finals.”

The second varsity eight petite final will be held on Sunday at 9:00 while the novice petite final will be earlier in the day, at 8:20. Notre Dame’s second varsity eight will race versus Texas, Northeastern, SDSU, USD (A) and Kansas State. The Irish will face Washington, SDSU, Loyola, USC and UCSD (A) in the novice petite final.

Notre Dame’s second varsity eight boat finished ahead of Loyola, USD (A) and Stanford (L/W) in Heat B. The Irish novice eight finished ahead of Sacramento State and Orange Coast in Heat A. The only teams in the 23-boat novice field that posted faster times than Notre Dame were Cal, Texas (6:54.36), Kansas State, Stanford (6:57.80) and Oregon State (6:59.60).

The Notre Dame second varsity eight includes coxswain Eileen Froehlke, plus Anka Jedry, Jessica Guzik, Alyssa Close, Danielle Stealy, Andrea Doud, Kendra Short, Sarah Kate Hafner and Pamela Jefson. Stephanie Szegedi is serving as the cox for a novice boat that includes Mallory Glass, Elli Greybar, Christine Trezza, Lauren Buck, Megan Black, Amanda Gonzalez, Laura Petnuch and Erica Copeland