April 1, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame women’s rowing team, ranked 20th in the nation, will send two boats to the 31st San Diego Crew Classic on Saturday-Sunday, April 3-4, in San Diego, Calif. The first varsity eight will compete in the esteemed Jessop-Whittier Cup, while the second varsity eight will compete in the junior varsity eight. All of the action this weekend will take place on the waters of Mission Bay at Crown Point Shores Park.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS FOR SATURDAY AND SUNDAY: The following is the schedule of events that Notre Dame will be competing in on Saturday:
8:20 a.m. – Heat 1 Jessop-Whittier Cup
10:00 a.m. – Heat 3 Women’s JV
The following is the complete schedule of events for Sunday:
10:20 a.m. – Women’s JV Petite Final
11:30 a.m. – Jessop-Whittier Cup Petite Final
12:50 p.m. – Women’s JV Grand Final
2:20 p.m. – Jessop-Whittier Cup Grand Final
CREWS FOR THE WEEKEND:
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, Kathleen Welsh, Elizabeth Specht, Jenna Redgate, Jessica Guzik, Andrea Doud, Ashley St. Pierre, Megan Sanders
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.
ABOUT THE SAN DIEGO CREW CLASSIC: The San Diego Crew Classic first came into existence in April of 1973. Its intent was to provide an event early in the year, before the formal collegiate racing season began, between traditional and up-and-coming rowing powers from across the country. The first teams to compete in the Crew Classic were the U.S. Naval Academy, UCLA, UC-San Diego, Washington, Loyola, Long Beach State, San Diego State, Orange Coast College and UC-Santa Barbara. The event has continued to grow in size and prestige since its inception.
For the 2004 San Diego Crew Classic, Notre Dame will have its top varsity eight boat competing for the Jessop-Whittier Cup as well as enter its second varsity eight into the Women’s JV.
In Heat One of the Jessop-Whittier Cup, the Irish will be racing No. 11 USC, No. 12 Washington State, No. 14 Tennessee, No. 17 Stanford, Villanova and Purdue.
In Heat Three of the Women’s JV, the Irish again will face the Trojans along with No. 2 California, Clemson, UC-Irvine and St. Joseph’s.
Other teams competing in the 31st Crew Classic include No. 10 Washington, No. 19 Texas, Wisconsin, Oregon State and UCLA.
For more information, please go to the official website of the San Diego Crew Classic: http://www.crewclassic.org
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.
A LOOK AT THE POLLS: After racing against then second-ranked Michigan last weekend, the Irish enter the second USRowing/CRCA Poll of the season at No. 20.
As of March 31
1. Ohio State
9. Michigan State
12. Washington State
13. Boston University
20. Notre Dame
Others receiving votes: Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon State, Penn, Boston College, Clemson, 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 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 travels west to the prestigious San Diego Crew Classic. At the Classic, the Irish will face 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 will also be participating in the Classic, including 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 two 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.
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: Notre Dame will be in action again on Saturday, April 10, at the Indiana Classic in Indianapolis, Ind.