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No. 17 Notre Dame Ready For BIG EAST Rowing Challenge

April 23, 2004

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After having one week off, the No. 17 Notre Dame women’s rowing team is heading to Massachusetts for two regattas, taking place April 24-25. The Irish first will be competing in Boston, in a tri-regatta against Boston University and Northeastern on Saturday, April 24. Notre Dame will then travel to one of its top regattas of the season, the BIG EAST Rowing Challenge in Worcester, Sunday, April 25. The Challenge will be raced on Lake Quinsigamond, located at Regatta Point State Park, and will feature a 2,000-meter rowing course.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS FOR SUNDAY:The BIG EAST Rowing Challenge is scheduled to begin Sunday at 8:10 a.m. with the first heat of the first varsity four. The regatta will conclude at 1:50 p.m. with the grand final of the varsity eight and will be followed by an awards ceremony at 2:20 pm. The following is a complete schedule of Sunday’s events:

8:10 a.m. – Varsity Four (Heat One)
8:20 a.m. – Varsity Four (Heat Two)
8:40 a.m. – Novice Eight (Heat One)
8:50 a.m. – Novice Eight (Heat Two)
9:00 a.m. – Second Varsity Eight (Heat One)
9:10 a.m. – Second Varsity Eight (Heat Two)
9:40 a.m. – Varsity Eight (Heat One)
9:50 a.m. – Varsity Eight (Heat Two)
10:40 a.m. – Varsity B/C Four (Final)
10:50 a.m. – *Second Novice Eight (Final)
11:10 a.m. – *Novice Four (Final)
11:50 a.m. – Varsity Four Petite Final
Noon – Varsity Four Grand Final
12:40 p.m. – Novice Eight Petite Final
12:50 p.m. – Novice Eight Grand Final
1:10 p.m. – Second Varsity Eight Petite Final
1:20 p.m. – Second Varsity Eight Grand Final
1:40 p.m. – Varsity Eight Petite Final
1:50 p.m. – Varsity Eight Grand Final
2:20 p.m. – Awards Ceremony

(All times EDT) *- denotes non-scoring event

DIRECTIONS TO SUNDAY’S RACE: Direction’s to the BIG EAST Rowing Challenge can be found at:


Varsity Eight: Maureen Gibbons (cox), Natalie Ladine, Alice Bartek, Meghan Boyle, Rachel Polinski, Melissa Felker, Katie Chenoweth, Danielle Protasewich, Jacqueline Hazen

Second Varsity Eight: Kacy McCaffrey (cox), Kati Sedun, Katie Welsh, Jessica Guzik, Jenna Redgate, Lizzie Specht, Megan Sanders, Danielle Stealy, Andrea Doud

Varsity Four: Kathryn Long (cox), Katie O’Hara, Kristen Mizzi, Pam Jefson, Ashley St. Pierre

Second Varsity Four: Caitlin Rackish (cox), Sarah Keefer, Meredith Thornburgh, Kristin Henkel, Tricia David

Third Varsity Four: Shannan Lettieri (cox), Courtney Quinn, Ann Mulligan, Meghan Chidsey, Jen Connolly

Novice Eight: Maria Romano (cox), Sarah Kate Hafner, Ariel Klingaman, Alyssa Close, Beth Hatch, Danielle Potts, Colleen Larson, Shannon Cassel, Sarah Shaw

Novice Four: Eileen Froehlke (cox), Audrey deGuire, Jana Miller, Colleen McCotter, Kaitlin Sharkey

ABOUT NOTRE DAME: The Irish began their spring schedule by winning six races against then eighth-ranked Michigan State and Tennessee, which was ranked 13th at the time, on March 13. The tri-regatta was held on Lake Lanier, in Knoxville, Tenn., and was raced in three sessions with Notre Dame winning all three second varsity four heats and taking first place in each of the three first novice eight races.

The following day, the Irish traveled to Oak Ridge, Tenn., to race against 18th-ranked Duke. The regatta featured five races with the Irish prevailing victoriously in the varsity four, the novice eight and the novice four.

Notre Dame then competed in a five-team regatta in Ann Arbor, Mich., on March 27. The day’s competition was highlighted by the Irish first varsity four seizing first place and the first varsity eight crew taking second to Michigan, which was second in the USRowing/CRCA poll at the time.

On April 3-4, two Irish varsity boats traveled to San Diego, Calif., to compete in the prestigious San Diego Crew Classic for the third time in program history. Facing the top varsity eight boats in the country, including then No. 2 California, No. 10 Washington, No. 11 USC, No. 12 Washington State, No. 14 Tennessee and Wisconsin. Notre Dame’s first varsity eight crew placed seventh in the Jessop-Whittier Cup final. The Irish second varsity eight had one of its best races of the season as it placed second in the Petite Final.

Over Easter weekend, the Irish competed in the Indiana Classic against Michigan State (ranked 10th at the time), Indiana and Purdue. Both Notre Dame’s 17th-ranked first varsity eight and second varsity eight finished second to Michigan State in its races.

ABOUT NORTHEASTERN: Under sixth-year head coach Joe Wilhelm, the Huskies opened their spring season at the 21st Rowlands Cup. Northeastern finished third to Radcliffe and Boston College, respectively, in both the varsity eight and second varsity eight races.

In its second race of the spring, Northeastern took on Boston College, Dartmouth and Buffalo on the Charles River. The first varsity eight came in first, while the second varsity eight boat claimed fourth place.

Racing in the Orange Cup, the Huskies placed second to Syracuse and just beat Pennsylvania for third in the first varsity eight race. In the second varsity eight, Northeastern finished third to first-place Pennsylvania and Syracuse.

In its next competition, Northeastern edged out Columbia by less then two-tenths of a second in the first varsity eight race and in the second varsity eight race, the Huskies fell to Navy and Columbia.

For more information, visit Northeastern’s website:

ABOUT BOSTON UNIVERSITY: The No. 15 Terrier’s opened their spring season successfully, sweeping both host Syracuse and Duke in the first and second varsity eight races, along with the varsity four.

Boston University won seven of eight races to defeat George Washington and Navy, and later that same day, to defeat Georgetown.

In a tri-regatta versus Yale and host Dartmouth, the Terrier’s finished behind Yale and ahead of Dartmouth in both the first varsity eight and second varsity eight.

At the Brown Regatta, a tri-regatta against Brown and Texas, Boston University fell to Brown, but beat Texas in the first varsity eight and second varsity eight races.

For more information, visit Boston University’s website:

ABOUT THE BIG EAST ROWING CHALLENGE: The BIG EAST Rowing Challenge is one of the top regattas of the spring season for the Irish. Notre Dame has finished as the runner-up to Syracuse at each of the previous three BIG EAST events. In 2003, the Irish took three of seven races and finished only two points (110 total) behind the champions. Nine BIG EAST squads will participate in this year’s Challenge.

Boston College has had a strong spring campaign, highlighted by victories in four of five events at the Jesuit Invitational. The Eagles also finished second in both varsity eight events against national-power Harvard (currently ranked No. 5) and local-rival Northeastern.

Connecticut has earned multiple victories this spring against Drexel and Fairfield.

Georgetown won the varsity four, novice eight, second novice eight and second varsity eight races in competition against North Carolina and Indiana. As a team, the Hoyas have registered fifth-place finishes at the last two conference regattas.

Miami, taking on 12 schools from the Sunshine State, won all eight races to capture the 2004 Florida State Championship. The Hurricanes have finished in sixth place at all three previous BIG EAST events.

Rutgers, looking to improve on its third-place BIG EAST finish in 2003, has earned wins over George Washington and Connecticut this season.

The only school to ever win a BIG EAST title, Syracuse looks to continue its success on Lake Quinsigamond as it seeks to claim its fourth consecutive title. This year, the Orangewomen won the varsity eight race on its way to claiming the Orange Challenge Cup against Northeastern and Pennsylvania. Syracuse has spent the entire regular season ranked in the USRowing/CRCA poll, coming into this weekend ranked No. 18.

Villanova’s varsity eight has claimed wins against Florida and rival La Salle.

West Virginia, led by its varsity eight boat, is looking to improve on last year’s seventh-place team finish.

Courtesy of the BIG EAST Conference

A LOOK AT THE POLLS: After having a week off, the Irish remained ranked at No. 17 for the third week in a row.

USRowing/CRCA Poll
As of April 21

Rankings (first-place votes)
1. Ohio State (17)
2. California (3)
R3. Princeton
4. Brown
5. Harvard
6. Virginia
7. Michigan State
8. Washington
9. Yale
10. Michigan
11. Tennessee
12. Washington State
13. Wisconsin
14. Cornell
15t. Boston University
15t. USC
17. Notre Dame
18. Syracuse
19. Massachusetts
20. Texas

Others receiving votes: Duke, Minnesota, Iowa, Stanford, UCLA

SPRING SCHEDULE: The Irish faced one of the toughest, if not the most, challenging schedules in the nation in 2003 as they raced at least one team in the top 20 almost every weekend. The same is on tap for 2003-04 as the Irish have already rowed in the Head of the Rock and the Head of the Charles.

Throughout the course of the spring, the Irish are scheduled to face 16 of the top-20 teams that were ranked in the USRowing/CRCA preseason poll.

Notre Dame faced perennially ranked teams Tennessee, Michigan State and Duke over spring break to open the spring of 2004. The Irish traveled on March 27 to Ann Arbor, Mich., for another tough regatta against No. 2 Michigan, No. 8 Michigan State, Clemson and Eastern Michigan.

Following the regatta versus the Wolverines, Spartans, Tigers and Eagles, Notre Dame traveled west to the prestigious San Diego Crew Classic. At the Classic, the Irish faced many of the top teams from the West Coast, including No. 2 California, No. 10 Washington, No. 11 USC, No. 12 Washington State, No. 17 Stanford, Oregon State and UCLA. Other standout teams from around the country that also participated in the Classic included No. 14 Tennessee, No. 19 Texas, Wisconsin and Clemson.

After a competitive regatta against Indiana, Purdue and nationally-ranked Michigan State over the Easter holiday, the Irish head to the East Coast for races against Boston University and Northeastern, before going to Worcester, Mass., for the BIG EAST Rowing Challenge. Notre Dame is looking for its first team title at the BIG EAST race after placing second the past three seasons, including a narrow two-point loss to nationally-ranked Syracuse in 2003.

The Irish then have their most important regatta of the year, as an NCAA bid is on the line, when many of the country’s best teams compete at the Lexus South/Central Sprints in Oak Ridge, Tenn. If successful in Oak Ridge, Notre Dame will make a return trip to the West Coast for the NCAA Rowing Championships, which are scheduled for May 28-30, in Sacramento, Calif.

SPRING OUTLOOK: Although the Irish did not achieve their ultimate goal of qualifying for the NCAA Championships in 2003, the team continued to raise the expectation level of this program after winning three gold medals and a silver in the varsity races at the 2003 BIG EAST Rowing Challenge. The Irish then achieved another first in program history as the second varsity four won a gold medal at the 2003 Central Regions. Notre Dame also received its first invitation to the Windermere Cup in Seattle, rowing in front of more than 100,000 people. The Irish placed third behind the likes of national-power Washington and the Belarus National Team, but it put Notre Dame in position for its best season in the short history of the program in 2004.

Despite losing former All-American Ashlee Warren, coxswain Cassie Markstahler and captain Casey Buckstaff to graduation, the Irish do return five people from the first varsity eight and 20 overall letterwinners in 2004, including the entire gold-medal-winning second varsity four.

The heart of the 2003-04 team is the senior class led by two-time all-region honoree and team co-captain Natalie Ladine. The native of Sacramento, Calif., is looking to return home for the NCAA regatta this season and has two years of experience in the varsity eight. Others seniors returning from the 2003 varsity eight include Alice Bartek, who holds the Notre Dame 2,000-meter erg score record; Jacqueline Hazen and Sarah Keefer, who were members of the gold-medal-winning second four at the 2003 Central Sprints; Danielle Protasewich and co-captain Kathleen Welsh.

The junior class boasts three members who rowed in the top eight last season, including Katie Chenoweth, who was also a 2003 National Scholar-Athlete winner with Ladine, Rachel Polinski and Kati Sedun. Junior coxswain Maureen Gibbons made incredible strides in the fall, while Kristen Mizzi, Kristin Henkel and Elizabeth Specht will all be in the mix this spring.

Also contributing to Notre Dame’s cause in the spring of ’04 will be sophomores Meghan Boyle, who earned a seat in the middle of the first varsity eight as a freshman, and Melissa Felker, who rowed as part of the second varsity eight last year and had a tremendous fall.

The Irish novice program, led by 2003 Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year Pam Mork, continues to produce great athletes as sophomores Andrea Doud, Pamela Jefson, coxswain Shannan Lettieri, Julie Lewis, Marcia Luttio, Jenna Redgate and Danielle Stealy all are making the jump to the varsity level. Redgate rowed as part of the first eight in the fall, while Stealy and Doud were in the second eight that placed third in the Club event at the Head of the Charles.

The Irish also have seen members of the freshmen class already filling roles on the varsity squad. Ashley St. Pierre earned a seat in the first eight for both races in the fall while Alyssa Close, Jessica Guzik and Colleen Larson made improvements over the fall and will compete for seats in the varsity boats in the spring.

FALL REVIEW: The Notre Dame rowing team faced some of the nation’s best competition during the fall season. Stone was able to try new boating combinations in order to assess where the Irish are in comparison with the rest of the nation.

Opening the season in Rockford, Ill., at the Head of the Rock, Notre Dame took first in the pairs race, came in fourth and seventh in the Open Eight race and fourth and fifth in the fours. In the varsity four, the Irish fared well, finishing fourth and fifth. In the pairs, Notre Dame won two of the top five places and six of the top 17 spots. In their first-ever collegiate race, the novice boats did well at the Head of the Rock, taking first and second place.

The Irish then rowed on uncharted waters as Notre Dame made its first-ever appearance at the Head of the Charles – the nation’s premier head race. The Irish finished third out of 47 boats in the Club Eight race. The first varsity eight placed 29th in the Championship race.

Notre Dame also sent four crews to the Head of the Eagle in Indianapolis, Ind. The Irish took first and third in the varsity eight race. In the novice eight event, Notre Dame placed third and fifth.

HEAD COACH Martin Stone: Head coach Martin Stone is in his sixth season (seventh year) at the helm of the Irish. Stone has brought instant credibility to this young program, putting Notre Dame rowing on the map both on and off the water. Some career highlights include qualifying the varsity eight for the 2002 NCAA Championships in only the fourth year of the program, and guiding the Irish to a school-record three gold medals at the 2003 BIG EAST Rowing Challenge as well as the program’s first gold ever at the 2003 Central Regions. In ’02, Stone earned CRCA Central Region Coach of the Year honors and was one of six finalists for National Coach of the Year accolades. Off the water, 15 rowers have received CRCA National Scholar-Athlete honors and Stone’s Irish squads have achieved a 3.2 overall team grade-point average in all 13 semesters of the program’s history.

THE CAPTAINS: Seniors Natalie Ladine and Kathleen Welsh have been voted as team captains for the 2003-2004 season. Ladine has been a part of the first varsity eight for the past two seasons and is the only member of the roster who rowed at the 2002 NCAA Championships. She earned BIG EAST Academic All-Star, National Scholar-Athlete and second-team all-Central Region accolades for both the 2002 and 2003 seasons. Welsh has earned two monograms for the Irish and earned BIG EAST Academic All-Star honors in 2003.

UP NEXT: The Irish squad will be off until May 15-16, when they will travel to Oak Ridge, Tenn., to compete against many of the country’s best teams at the Lexus South/Central Sprints, which will be their most important regatta of the year as an NCAA bid is on the line.