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Irish First Varsity Four, Open Four and Novice Eight Crews Advance To Grand Finals at Lexus Central/South Region Championship

May 15, 2004

Oakridge, Tenn. – Notre Dame’s first varsity four, open four and novice eight boats will compete in the championship finals during tomorrow’s final day of competition at the 2004 Lexus Central/South Region Sprints on Melton Hill Lake. All three Irish crews will row in the Grand Final of their respective races. The First Varsity Eight and Second Varsity Eight boats both advanced to the Petite Final.

The first varsity four crew of Kathryn Long (cox), Katie O’Hara (stroke), Pamela Jefson, Kristen Mizzi and Andrea Doud took third in both of its heats. In its first race of the morning, the Irish finished third with a time of 7:52.1, behind Ohio State (7:44.4) and Clemson (7:48.3). In the semifinals, Notre Dame again took with a time of 8:00.1. Ohio State won that semifinal heat in 7:53.9, followed by Michigan in 7:58.1.

In tomorrow’s championship race, which is slated for 11:00 a.m., the Irish will go up against Wisconsin, Ohio State, Virginia, Michigan and Clemson in tomorrow’s championship final.

The open four crew of Caitlin Rackish (cox), Sarah Keefer, Kristin Henkel, Jenna Redgate and Tricia David registered the best time of the eight boats that competed on Saturday. The Irish raced in the first heat and posted a time of 7:46.9, two seconds better than Virginia’s second-place boat which finished in 7:48.9, followed by Michigan (7:56.0) and Cincinnati (8:47.7). Wisconsin was the winner of the second heat as the Badger boat crossed the finish line in 7:48.0.

Notre Dame will face Clemson, Virginia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State in tomorrow’s final of that race, which is slated for a 10:40 a.m. start.

The first novice eight boat of Maria Romano (cox), Danielle Potts (stroke), Ariel Klingaman, Alyssa Close, Beth Hatch, Shannon Cassel, Colleen Larson, Sarah Shaw and Meghan Chidsey earned a spot in the Grand Final with two impressive third-place finishes in their heats. In their first race of the morning, Notre Dame rowed a 7:21.1 with Kansas’ boat leading the way with a time of 7:09.6, followed by Clemson in 7:20.0. In their semifinal race, Irish again took third in 7:26.0, finishing behind Wisconsin (7:21.8) and Clemson (7:24.2). In tomorrow’s final of that race, which is slated for 9:30 a.m., Notre Dame will go up against boats from Ohio State, Wisconsin, Kansas, Clemson and Miami.

The No. 14 Irish varsity eight crew of Maureen Gibbons (cox), Natalie Ladine (stroke), Alice Bartek, Meghan Boyle, Rachel Polinski, Melissa Felker, Katie Chenoweth, Danielle Protasewich and Jacqueline Hazen went up against some strong competition all day long and will row in tomorrow’s Petite Final.

In their first race of the day, Notre Dame finished second to No. 5 Ohio State. The Irish posted a time of 6:42.1, while the Buckeye boat won the heat in 6:42.1. Notre Dame had a strong showing in its semifinal heat as the Irish earned a fourth-place finish with a time of 6:49.5. Michigan, which is ranked third, won the heat in 6:46.3, followed by No. 10 Wisconsin (6:48.4) and No. 13 Tennessee (6:48.7). Tomorrow’s Petite Final will take place at 10:30 a.m. as the Irish will face No. 20, Minnesota, No. 11 Michigan State, Iowa and Kansas.

The second varsity eight boat of Kacy McCaffrey (cox), Jessica Guzik (stroke), Ashley St. Pierre, Elizabeth Specht, Kathleen Welsh, Kati Sedun, Sarah Kate Hafner, Danielle Stealy and Megan Sanders finished third and sixth in their respective heats. In crew’s first race of the day, they took third in their heat while posting a time of 7:05.3. Virginia won that heat in 6:53.5 and was followed by Minnesota (6:59.6).

In their semifinal heat, the Irish finished sixth (out of six boats) with a time of 7:14.5. Virginia was victorious in that race as well with that boat posting a time of 6:55.3. The Petite Final will take place at 11:10 a.m. and the Irish will face Cincinnati, Duke, Iowa, Tennessee and Texas in that race.

“We’re extremely pleased with the performances of our varsity four, open four and novice eight boats,” Irish head coach Martin Stone said. “The varsity four race was very competitive and our crew displayed tremendous competitive spirit. The open four and novice eight boats also had tremendous races and both of these crews made strong charges at the end to earn a spot in the grand finals of their respective races.

“Going into this weekend’s competition we knew that our varsity eight and second varsity eight boats were going to face a very strong and competitive field. This has become one of the premier racing events and the level of competition among teams from this region gets better and better every year. I’m disappointed that we just missed making the grand final, but I am very pleased with the effort by our rowers.”