Stephanie O'Neill and the Irish claimed their ninth straight BIG EAST title Sunday. O'Neill also was one of six Irish rowers selected all-BIG EAST following the day's races.

Irish Win Five Grand Finals En Route To Ninth Consecutive BIG EAST Title

May 13, 2012

2012 BIG EAST Race ResultsGet Acrobat Reader

WEST WINDSOR, N.J. – The University of Notre Dame rowing team claimed its ninth consecutive BIG EAST Championship Sunday, winning five of six grand finals on Mercer Lake. The Irish finished with 111 team points to secure a 14-point victory.

Syracuse, the team that fought hard with Notre Dame two weeks ago at the BIG EAST Invite, finished second with 97 points. Louisville rounded out the top three with 87 points.

Notre Dame’s day got underway with the most dominant final of the event in the third varsity four. The Irish crew of coxswain Leah Corachea, Greer Cully, Christine McGough, Madeline Loper and Hayley Johnson won by over 40 seconds in the three-boat final, crossing at 7:44.478. Connecticut placed second in 8:24.876 with Louisville finishing third at 8:49.880.

The second varsity four was next to take to the water for grand final action. The Irish crew of coxswain Mikaela Prego, Madelynn Conlin, Kathryn Monahan, Stephanie Winsch and Anna Sliwinski qualified for the grand final in the top spot after posting a 7:30.76 in the prelims. In the final heat, the Irish pulled away for an open-water victory after crossing in 7:44.378. Louisville finished second at 8:00.456 with Rutgers in third at 8:07.624.

A four-boat, third varsity eight final followed, with the Irish boating of coxswain Becca MacDonald, Carlee Beckler, Ching-Ting Hwang, Kiersten DeHaven, Valerie Brencher, Kelsey Murphy, Elizabeth Linnemanstons, Analisa LaMair-Orosco and Sarah Hart again entering as the top boat after a prelim time of 6:55.967. Notre Dame pulled away to win by open water after posting a 7:04.391, while Syracuse finished at 7:10.355 to claim second. Connecticut rounded out the top three in 7:22.009.

The lone second-place finish of the day for the Irish came in the varsity eight race. After claiming the prelim heat by over eight seconds with a time of 7:14.000, the Irish crew of coxswain Danni Schneider, Sarah McShane, Katie Suyo, Stella Willoughby and Kelsey Sekanick could not overcome Syracuse in the grand final, finishing second in 7:31.428. The Orange finished with a winning time of 7:29.900 with Georgetown securing third at 7:48.536.

The Irish returned to the top of the podium in the second varsity eight. Notre Dame’s crew of coxswain Christina Dines, Ingrid Woelfel, Lauren Tharp, Rose Doerfler, Anna Kottkamp, Paige Aiello, Kelsey Haddad, Teresa Blumenstein and Teresa Rubinger posted the top time in time trials (6:30.830) before claiming the grand final (6:40.703) over Syracuse (6:44.123) and Louisville (6:54.587) who finished second and third, respectively.

Notre Dame’s day concluded with a win in the varsity eight to seal the team’s ninth straight BIG EAST title. The Irish crew of coxswain Abby Meyers, Joanna Poinsatte, Stephanie O’Neill, Olivia Kacsits, Erin McConnell, Erin Boxberger, Ailish Sheehan, Courtney Gaberino and Morgan Kelley earned the top lane in the grand final after finishing first in prelims at 6:22.016. In the final, Notre Dame battled with Syracuse, a team the Irish held off for a .6-second victory only two weeks ago, and pulled away for a near three-second win with a time of 6:31.724. The Orange claimed second in 6:34.056 with Louisville crossing third at 6:35.764.

As a result of their success at the 2012 BIG EAST Championship, the Irish coaching staff was selected as the Coaching Staff of the Year and six rowers were named members of the all-BIG EAST teams. Kacsits, Kelly and O’Neill each earned first-team billing with Boxberger, Gaberino and Sheehan being named to the second team.

Notre Dame now awaits its fate for the 2012 NCAA Championships. The field, comprised of the top 16 crews in the country, will be selected Tuesday at 5 p.m. (ET). The Irish are hoping to earn a spot in the regatta for the first time since 2007.

Final Team Standings1.    Notre Dame, 111 points2.    Syracuse, 97 points3.    Louisville, 87 points4.    Georgetown, 69 points5.    Connecticut, 60 points6.    Rutgers, 55 points7.    West Virginia, 54 points8.    Villanova, 30 points
All-BIG EAST First TeamMary Grace Haggett, ConnecticutSydney Leguyader, GeorgetownEllen Fawcett, LouisvilleOlivia Kacsits, Notre DameMorgan Kelley, Notre DameStephanie, O'Neill, Notre DameKatherine Geithman, RutgersMaggie McCrudden, SyracuseAlison Todd, SyracuseKelly Kruppenbacker, VillanovaCourtney Schrand, West Virginia
All-BIG EAST Second TeamAndriel Doolittle, ConnecticutLindsey Bragg, GeorgetownKayla Cook, GeorgetownErin Bennett, LouisvilleMorgan Dunham, LouisvilleErin Boxberger, Notre DameCourtney Gaberino, Notre DameAilish Sheehan, Notre DameKatie Quinn, RutgersEmma Karpowicz, SyracuseTiffany Macon, Syracuse
Coaching Staff of the YearNotre Dame