Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Midwest Rowing Championships

April 19, 2001

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THIS WEEK: The Notre Dame women’s rowing team, ranked 16th in the nation, will travel to Madison, Wis., and Lake Wingra Saturday, April 21, for the Midwest Rowing Championships.

The course is 1,850 meters starting at Wingra Park. Racing begins at 6:24 a.m. Saturday with the women’s novice four and concludes at 5:36 p.m. with the women’s varsity eight finals.

The finals begin at 12:36 p.m., with the second novice eight, which is a final-only race. The grand finals of the novice four is at 1:24 p.m., followed by the grand final of the novice eight at 2:24 p.m. The grand final of the second varsity eight, also a final-only race, is at 3:48 p.m., with the varsity four grand final at 4:12 p.m., and the varsity eight grand final at 5:36 p.m. All third-level finals and petite finals are scheduled 24 and 12 minutes prior to the grand final in each event.

ABOUT NOTRE DAME: The Notre Dame rowing team is off to its best start in the three-year history of the program as the varsity eight has won five of six races this spring. The only race the Irish did not win was the Jessop-Whittier Cup at the San Diego Crew Classic, where they finished sixth against some of the nation’s best competition. The Irish varsity eight crew of Katherine Burnett, Diane Price, Becky Luckett, Casey Buckstaff, Michelle Olsgard, Ashlee Warren, Ann Marie Dillhoff, Jayme Szefc and coxswain Claire Bula is ranked 16th in this week’s US Rowing/Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association poll. Notre Dame achieved the first national ranking in the history of the program when it checked in at No. 14 for the week of April 4.

Overall, the Irish squad has had a very successful season sweeping all races against Tennessee, Creighton and Dayton, while winning four of six at the Indiana Cup and three races against Michigan State.

THE DOMINO EFFECT: Notre Dame head coach Martin Stone is suffering from the domino effect this weekend as the Irish are having to adjust their boats because varsity eight bow Katherine Burnett is scheduled to take the MCATs this weekend. Look for Courtney Mercer to move from the second to the first varsity eight boat, with varsity eighters Becky Luckett and Ashlee Warren moving seats as well in the first boat.

THE INDIANA CUP: Notre Dame took four of six races last Saturday at the Indiana Cup on the waters on Lake Lemon in Bloomington, Ind. Conditions were good as temperatures were in the mid 70s with a slight headwind blowing across the course from lane one to four at about 10 miles per hour.

The varsity eight team won its fifth race in six tries this spring. Notre Dame was first in 6:32.60, followed by Tennessee in 6:42.53, Indiana (6:51.50) and Purdue (6:52.70).

In what was the most exciting race of the day, the Irish second varsity eight of Leah Ashe, Anne Starks, Maureen Carr, Melissa Alberding, Courtney Mercer, Erica Drennen, Kerri Murphy, Katie Besson and Erin Kiernicki won in a time of 6:55.20, only three seconds ahead of runner-up Tennessee (6:58.88). The Irish jumped out of the gate early in the race, but Tennessee battled back and pulled even with the Irish with about 500 meters to the finish line. Notre Dame then pulled through and took the victory.

Notre Dame’s third varsity eight of Kristi Schmidt, Jessica Manske, Ann Gurucharri, Andrea Amoni, Katie McCaulden, Erin Shea, Kolleen Myers, Meg Feely and Kathryn Long was third in 7:22.22 and Purdue was fourth in 7:30.89

The second novice eight team of Karrie Koski, Meg Starnes, Maggie Ruddy, Kathryn Lent, Sam Matovich, Ashlee Logan, Alicia Garcia, Sarah Keefer and Marita Murphy also won a close race, finishing two seconds ahead of Purdue.

Notre Dame crossed the line in 7:32.60, followed by Purdue’s A boat in 7:34.74. Tennessee was third in 7:47.21 and Purdue’s B boat was fourth in 8:21.72.

Notre Dame also took the novice eight race, winning by eight seconds over Purdue. The Irish team of Megan Sanders, Danielle Protasewich, Katie O’Hara, Robin Mattessich, Jacqueline Hazen, Natalie Ladine, Katie Welsh, Heather Dziedzic and Kacy McCaffrey posted a time of 7:02.50, while Purdue finished in 7:10.15. Indiana was third in the race in 7:15.80, followed by Tennessee in 7:19.26.

Notre Dame lost both fours races though as the novice team fell to Indiana by six seconds and the varsity team finished second to Tennessee by over 17 seconds.

POLL POSITION: The Notre Dame rowing team, in only its third season of varsity competition, is ranked 16th in the US Rowing/Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association Poll. Notre Dame ramined in the 16th position after opening the season at No. 14, marking the first time in the young history of the program that Notre Dame’s top boat had been ranked nationally. The lightweight eight boat finished the 1999 season ranked 12th in the nation.

IRISH RANKING IN THE REGIONAL POLLS AS WELL: Notre Dame’s varsity eight is currently ranked fourth in the Central Region according to the NCAA ranking released April 9. The Irish second varsity eight is tied for fourth with Kansas, while the varsity four is ranked sixth in the Central Region.

IRISH HISTORY LESSON: Notre Dame rowing was granted varsity status in 1996, making it the 26th varsity sport at the University. Martin Stone was hired in ’97 as the first head coach and the Irish competed in their first regatta in 1998.

HEAD COACH MARTIN STONE: On Oct. 29, 1997, Martin Stone was hired as the first head coach of the Notre Dame rowing program. Now is his third season at the helm, Stone is poised for his best year yet with the Irish. In 1998-99, Stone sent the program off to a rousing start as he led the lightweight eight vessel to a No. 12 national ranking in its first year of competition. In his second season, Stone saw dramatic improvement from his squad that boasted the talents of Katrina Ten Eyck, one of the top rowers in the nation. Ten Eyck was invited to train at the United States Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. This fall, Stone showed just how far the program had come as he has led his 2000-01 team to four gold medals at the Head of the Elk Regatta in the fall, and a No. 16 national ranking this spring.

Before arriving at Notre Dame, Stone served as the women’s rowing coach at the United States Naval Academy for five years. In 1994, Stone coached the Mids to a NCAA Division II national championship by winning the varsity eight title at the Champion International Collegiate Rowing Championships. In the championship, Navy also won the first novice and second novice championship races. The Mids not only earned the title, but also were awarded the prestigious Anita DeFrantz Trophy for overall performance by women’s crews at the Champion International Regatta. Prior to taking over the Mids’ women’s program, Stone served as Navy’s plebe lightweight coach in 1991. He also was an assistant rowing coach at his alma mater, Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif., in 1990, working with both the men’s and women’s programs and more specifically, with the varsity and novice women.

Stone began his rowing career at Saint Mary’s College as an undergraduate. With the Gaels, he was named the most valuable oarsman three years and went on to earn three letters, two in the heavyweight boat and one in the lightweight boat.

ACADEMIC HONORS AND AWARDS: Second varsity eight member Leah Ashe was named the outstanding scholar-athlete of the rowing team at the Academic Excellence Awards Dinner on April 9. Ashe has a 3.873 grade-point average in mechanical engineering. Sophomores Ann Marie Dillhoff and Ashlee Logan were also honored for achieving a 4.0 grade-point average during the fall semester. The rowing team also had the most members (41) make the Dean’s List during the spring ’00 semester, while compiling a cumulative 3.357 GPA during that semester.

SHOW ME THE MONEY: In December of 2000, first-year Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White announced the rowing program, along with the other 25 sports at Notre Dame, would receive the full complement of grants-in-aid under NCAA guidelines by the 2004-05 season. A non-grant-in-aid program its first three seasons, Notre Dame is in line to receive as many as 20 full grants-in-aid over the next four years, including five for the 2001-02 school year.

“It is very exciting for our program to now have the opportunity to go out and recruit on equal footing. The grants-in-aid will allow us to be more competitive than we already are,” head coach Martin Stone says.

THE BIG EAST ROWING CHALLENGE: In less than two weeks, the BIG EAST Conference will sponsor the BIG EAST Rowing Challenge for its nine member institutions who currently field rowing teams. The inaugural event, which will take place on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass., replaces the Georgetown Invitational which had been hosting a similar, non-sponsored event the past nine years.

“Although it is on a trial basis, it is a big step for the conference and women’s rowing to have the BIG EAST sponsor the meet. Hopefully this will lead to an official BIG EAST championship regatta, now that we have the required number of teams to host a championship” head coach Martin Stone says.

BIG EAST commissioner Michael Tranghese concurred:
“The BIG EAST is excited to add this event. The league continues to identify new programs for women and the inclusion of this Challenge creates more opportunities for our female student-athletes.”

TWO BOATS CHRISTENED AT HALFTIME OF GEORGETOWN MEN’S BASKETBALL GAME: The Notre Dame women’s rowing team christened two new racing shells during halftime of the men’s basketball game Sunday, March 4, against Georgetown. The two Vespoli Millennium shells were named for and christened by University of Notre Dame president emeritus Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh C.S.C and Rev. Edmund P. Joyce C.S.C. in front of a sold-out Joyce Center crowd.

It what is a long-standing tradition within the collegiate rowing community, boats are christened and named to honor individuals who have been influential within the University or the sport of rowing. Both Rev. Hesburgh and Rev. Joyce have been trailblazers at the University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh was influential in allowing women to enroll and study at the University in 1972, and Joyce was instrumental in bringing women’s athletics to campus that same year and helping Notre Dame in its drive toward achieving gender equity.

Also present at the ceremony were Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White, associate athletic director and rowing administrator Jim Phillips, head rowing coach Martin Stone, assistant coaches Pam Mork and Kevin Luecke and the Notre Dame women’s rowing team.

THE CAPTAINS: Head coach Martin Stone will have strong leadership this season as Claire Bula and Erin Kiernicki have been named captains for the 2000-01 season. Bula is in her third season with the Irish and was a nominee for the US Rowing Honor Roll last year. She is enrolled in the College of Arts and Letters, majoring in American studies. Kiernicki is also in her third season of competition for the Irish and is enrolled in the College of Business, majoring in marketing and sociology.

WHILE SOME RETURN, OTHERS GO: The Irish will be missing the services of sophomore Julia Kelly during the spring season as she is studying abroad in Italy. Kelly rowed in the first varsity eight boat during the fall semester. Also senior Sara Andrews will miss the entire spring season due to a leg injury. Andrews rowed with the lightweight eight crew and the varsity four in the fall.

HI, MY NAME IS…: This season, 20 of the 33 varsity roster members are new to the team. The development of the novice program, under the direction of assistant coaches Pam Mork and Kevin Luecke, is paying big dividends for the Irish this season as 16 women have made the jump from the novice to the varsity roster. Head coach Martin Stone also welcomes five freshman to the varsity team this season.

UP NEXT: Notre Dame travels to Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass., for the inaugural BIG EAST Women’s Rowing Challenge. All nine conference schools who sponsor rowing will be competing in this historic event.