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Irish Varsity Eight Boat Earns Berth In NCAA Semifinals

May 28, 2004

Sacramento, Calif. – The Notre Dame women’s varsity eight made history at the 2004 NCAA Championships in Sacramento, Calif. this morning. The Irish crew finished third in its morning heat to earn a spot in the semifinals for the first time in school history. This year’s three-day championship is being held at the California State University Sacramento (CSUS) Aquatic Center.

The No. 16th-ranked crew of Maureen Gibbons (Langhorne, Pa.), senior stroke Natalie Ladine (Sacramento, Calif.), senior Alice Bartek (Omaha, Neb.), sophomore Meghan Boyle (Pittsburgh, Pa.), junior Rachel Polinski (Mansfield, Ohio), freshman Melissa Felker (Bellevue, Wash.), junior Katie Chenoweth (East Lansing, Mich.), senior Danielle Protasewich (Duxbury, Mass.) and senior Jacqueline Hazen (Germantown, Tenn.) posted a time of 6:48.70 in Heat No. 1.

No. 3 Ohio State won the heat with a time of 6:45.60, followed by No. 6 Washington that finished the 1500 course in 6:46.20. Those two crews, along with Notre Dame qualfied for tomorrow’s two semifinal races.

No. 10 Tennessee finished fourth in 6:49.10, followed by No. 12 USC and No. 14 Michigan State.

Notre Dame stood fourth throughout the race and trailed Tennessee by less than a second with 500 meters remaining. The Irish, however, made up ground in the last 500-meter stretch as they covered the last 500 meters in 1:41.17, while Tennessee’s pace slowed to 1:42.44 in the last quarter of the race.

Six other boats from two other heats also qualified for one of the tomorrow’s two semifinal heats. No. 8 Michigan won Heat 2 in 6:45.60, while No. 1 California took second in 6:49.50, followed by No. 5 Virginia (6:54.80). No. 9 Brown had the winning time in Heat 3 with the morning’s best time of 6:44.10. No. 7 Yale was second as that crew covered the course in 6:46.70, while No. 2 Princeton finished with a time of 6:49.20.

Twelve boats overall will qualify for tomorrow’s semifinals. The final three entrants for tomorrow’s race will be determined later today.

“We rowed a phenomenal race today,” Irish head coach Martin Stone said. “We won the race in the last 500 meters to overtake Tennessee . I was especially pleased with the great determination we showed in the final stretch of the race. I’m very proud of our team and are very excited that we are among the top 12 qualifiers for tomorrow’s race. It’s a great honor for our program and we are looking forward to the challenge.”

Tomorrow’s two semifinal races are slated to begin at 10:30 a.m. (PDT)