Maria Romano and the Irish varsity eight earned a spot in Saturday's semifinals with a second-place finish in Friday's heat races. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Olivier/UT

Irish Varsity Eight Advances To Semifinals For Second Consecutive Year At NCAA Championships With Hopes Of Earning Berth In Grand Final

May 25, 2007

Oak Ridge, Tenn. – Notre Dame’s varsity eight crew earned a spot in Saturday’s (May 26) semifinals for the second consecutive year, while the Irish second varsity eight and varsity four boats will compete in one of two repechage heats at the 2007 NCAA Championships being held on Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Notre Dame is competing in the team portion of the NCAA Championship for the second consecutive year after earning the school’s first-ever berth a year ago in 2006.

Notre Dame’s varsity eight crew of coxswain Maria Romano (River Forest, Ill.), Lauren Buck (Flint, Mich.), Meghan Boyle (Pittsburgh, Calif.), Christine Trezza (Staten Island, N.Y.), Allison Marsh (Mashpee, Mass.), Laura Pearson (Bloomington, Minn.), Mary Quinn (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.), Amanda Polk (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Julie Sobolewski (Haddonfield, N.J.), which finished sixth in the final Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association/USRowing, took second in a highly contested race in its first race on the first day of competition. The Irish were placed in heat two and finished with a time of 6:35.67. No. 3 Yale won the race in 6:33.40, while No. 15 Dartmouth was third in 6:35.90. No. 7 Stanford was fourth in 6:36.12, followed by No. 10 Tennessee (6:41.36) and No. 9 Princeton (6:51.07).

In heat 1 of the varsity eight, No. 4 Brown was first in 6:30.54, followed by No. 3 Virginia 6:30.64, No. 12 Harvard (6:36.08), No. 13 UCLA (6:37.23) and No. 14 Central Florida (6:45.29).

Top-ranked USC was victorious in heat 3 in 6:39.00, followed by No. 11 Minnesota (6:39.56), No. 6 Ohio State (6:40.18), No. 8 California (6:41.06) and No. 19 Washington (6:47.50).

There will be two semifinals on Saturday with the top three from each of the heats advancing to the Grand Finals. In tomorrow’s semifinal heat, the Irish will go up against three teams from the Central/South region — Ohio State, Virginia and Tennessee, in addition to Pac-10 foes USC and Stanford. Notre Dame will look to earn a first-ever berth in the Grand Finals. The Irish won the Petite Final a year ago and finished seventh overall in the varsity eight competition.

“I thought our varsity eight boat raced extremely well,” head coach Martin Stone said, “Every boat from our race this morning advanced to the semifinals so that is a clear indication on how fast and competitive our heat was this morning. We expect a tough race tomorrow but I know we’re excited about the challenge and the chance to the compete in the Grand Final.”

Notre Dame’s second varsity eight crew of coxswain Stephanie Szegedi (South Lyon, Mich.), Anni Nowhitney (Ballston Spa, N.Y.), Mallory Glass (Okemos, Mich.), Ankica Jedry (Chicago, Ill.), Lindsay McQuaid (Beaverton, Ore.), Brittney Kelly (Wexford, Pa.), Jessica Guzik (Annandale, Va.), Elli Greybar (Western Springs, Ill.) and Sarah Kate Hafner (Tampa, Fla.) was sixth in its opening race of the day as the Irish finished with a time of 7:12.02. Brown won the race in 6:47.7, followed by Minesota (6:50.97), Yale (6:53.71), Ohio State (6:55.04) and Tennessee (6:55.29).

Virginia was victorious in heat 1 of the second varsity eight race as the Cavaliers posted a time of 6:48.77. California was second in 6:53.13, followed by Washington (6:57.39), USC (6:58.08), Harvard (7:00.80) and Princeton (7:01.39).

The varsity four crew of coxswain Sarah Keithley (Austin, Tex.), Laura Petnuch (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Erica Copeland (Marietta, Ga.), Shannon Cassel (Bettendorf, Iowa) and Mary Kate McNamara (North Potomac, Md.) rowed in heat 2 of their opening race and finished fifth as the Irish registered a time of 7:43.41, five second’s better than Ohio State’s sixth-place time of 7:48.24. Brown was the winner of the heat in 7:29.65, followed by Yale (7:33.20), Princeton (7:35.59) and California (7:48.24).

Virginia took first in heat 1 in 7:34.48, while USC was second in 7:43.75. Washington took third in 7:50.03, followed by Minnesota (7:53.61), Harvard (7:54.24) and Tennessee (7:55.24).

Each heat winner from the second varsity and varsity four races automatically advanced to Sunday’s Grand Final. The top two teams from each of the two repechage races also will qualify for the final, while the remaining boats will compete in the Petite Final.