Senior captains Christine Trezza (left) and Lauren Buck (right) celebrate after winning the sixth consecutive BIG EAST title for the Irish

Notre Dame Emerges Victorious At BIG EAST Championships

April 25, 2009

PENNSAUKEN, N.J. – The Notre Dame women’s rowing team secured its sixth consecutive BIG EAST Championship on Sat., Apr. 25 at Cooper River Park in Pennsauken, N.J. The Irish won four of six gold medals and finished no worse than second in every one of the grand final races at the Championship.

With gold medal victories by the novice four, second varsity four, varsity four and second varsity eight and runner-up performances by the novice eight and varsity eight, the Irish were able to defeat Syracuse and extend the BIG EAST’s second-longest current active title streak – behind only Notre Dame swimming and diving, which now sits at 13 straight titles after again claiming the crown in February.

Notre Dame finished with 112 points, followed by Syracuse (97), Louisville (92), Georgetown (85), Rutgers (62), Connecticut (57), Villanova (46) and West Virginia (38).

“We are very pleased that we won the BIG EAST title,” Irish head coach Martin Stone said. “It certainly was a total team effort as all six of our boats contributed to today’s championship. We knew going in that it was going to be a very challenging day of racing, but I am so proud of how our team responded to the challenge. Over the course of the last several weeks, I believe that we have picked up speed and I’m excited as to where we are and the progress we have made heading into the Central/South Region Championships in the next couple of weeks.”

Qualifying Heats:

The early morning preliminary heats, which began at approximately 7:00 a.m. (ET), saw the Irish secure the fastest time in each of the four events that had prelims (varsity eight, second varsity eight, novice eight and varsity four).

The first event of the day for Notre Dame was the varsity eight race. The crew of coxswain Stephanie Szegedi (South Lyon, Mich.), Brittney Kelly (Wexford, Pa.), Katherine Linnemanstons (Mequon, Wis.), Lauren Buck (Flint, Mich.), Christina Buckley (Huntington, N.Y.), Emily Crosby (Middletown, N.J.), Christine Trezza (Staten Island, N.Y.), Casey Robinson (Alexandria, Va.) and Anni Nowhitney (Ballston Spa, N.Y.) secured the victory by completing the course in a time of 6:52.725. The four-team heat was rounded out by Syracuse (6:55.6000), Georgetown (6:56.538) and Villanova (7:12.589). Notre Dame, Syracuse and Georgetown all advanced to the grand final due to their respective finishing times.

The second varsity eight race was the next prelim on the docket for the Irish. The crew of coxswain Kelsey Otero (Mequon, Wis.), Megan Keegan (Marietta, Ohio), Mallory Glass (Fernandina Beach, Fla.), Carol Ann Michel (Princeton, N.J.), Erin McConnell (Simsbury, Conn.), Genevieve Malone (Dayton, Ohio), Morgan Kelley (Windermere, Fla.), Elli Greybar (Western Springs, Ill.) and Erica Copeland (Marietta, Ga.) won the race in convincing fashion, capturing the heat victory by over 10 second. The Irish boat stopped the clock at 7:11.400 to top Rutgers (7:22.069), Connecticut (7:37.368) and Villanova (8:04.182) for first place in the qualifier. Rutgers and Connecticut also advance to the grand final with Notre Dame due to their finishing times.

The next race for Notre Dame would be the novice eight. The Irish boat of coxswain Alicia Elliot (Ambler, Pa.), Ching-Ting Hwang (Chesterfield, Mo.), Kacey Gergely (Valparaiso, Ind.), Colleen McKenna (Ellicott City, Md.), Megan Osterhout (Mundelein, Ill.), Valerie Brencher (Lumberton, N.J.), Kaitlyn Meaney (Ringgold, Ga.), Maria Lang (Harrison, Ohio) and Tess Fitzpatrick (St. Louis, Mo.) were able to secure the third consecutive heat win for Notre Dame with a race-winning time of 7:24.704. Villanova (7:29.795) and West Virginia (7:33.729) finished second and third respectively and advanced to the grand final along with the Irish due to their finishing times. Connecticut rounded out the qualifying race in a time of 7:39.202.

The final preliminary race would be the varsity four. Notre Dame entered the heat as the second seed, behind favored Georgetown. However, the crew of coxswain Katherine McMackin (Chevy Chase, Md.), Katie Suyo (Yardley, Pa.), Stephanie Gretsch (Downers Grove, Ill.), Braegan Padley (Boise, Idaho) and Emily Backer (Cannelton, Ind.) would make it four-for-four in qualifying heats, winning the race with a time of 7:53.814. The favored Hoyas would come in second – over 20 seconds behind the Irish – with a final time of 8:15.789. Villanova (8:27.551) and Connecticut (8:43.702) closed out the four-team heat.

Grand Finals:

The finals opened up with the novice four competition. There were no qualifying heats for the race as there were fewer than six teams submitting a boat for the event. Notre Dame, led by the crew of coxswain Jacqueline Gilhooly (Palos Heights, Ill.), Carly Anderson (Westford, Mass.), Margot Debot (Stevens Point, Wis.), Meredith Figg (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Claire Kueny (Richboro, Pa.), were able to claim first and win the first gold medal of the day for the Irish, winning the race in a time of 8:02.648. Rounding out the field was Georgetown (8:12.602) and Syracuse (8:49.667).

The next grand final was the second varsity four, which similar to the novice four race did not have qualifying heats for the championship. The Notre Dame crew of coxswain Rachael Louie (Westfield, N.J.), Laura Petnuch (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Erika Shults (Maple Glen, Pa.), Bridget Leone (Garden City, N.Y.) and Hannah Jackson (Moscow, Idaho) would come out on top of the four-team field, stopping the clock at a victorious 7:46.132. Syracuse would finish second to the Irish boat with a time of 7:58.503. Georgetown (8:16.254) and Louisville (8:21.618) would conclude the race in third and fourth respectively.

Notre Dame would next compete in the novice eight grand final. The Irish boat was able to improve on its qualifying time by more than 16 seconds, finishing the final in a time of 7:08.309. However, Syracuse (7:01.713) was able to hold off the Irish and earn the race victory. Georgetown captured third place in the race with a final time of 7:16.783. Rutgers (7:18.837), West Virginia (7:21.641) and Villanova (7:23.201) finished the final fourth through sixth respectively.

The Irish would quickly rebound and earn the third gold medal of the competition in the varsity four grand final. The Irish boat was able to shave over 17 seconds off of its qualifying time to post the race-winning mark of 7:36.622. Syracuse (7:40.637) and Georgetown (7:47.395) would round out the podium in second and third. Louisville (7:50.871), Villanova (8:19.023) and West Virginia (8:31.041) completed the race in fourth through sixth.

Notre Dame’s second varsity eight boat would make it four out of five, capturing the gold medal with a time of 6:42.547. The time was a marked improvement from the qualifying race, as the crew eliminated nearly 30 seconds from the preliminary heat. Louisville would grab second place in the event with a time of 6:46.253 and Syracuse would finish in third in a time of 6:50.254. Connecticut (7:04.543), Rutgers (7:05.264) and Georgetown (7:08.016) rounded out the six-team field.

The final race of the BIG EAST Championships saw a very competitive varsity eight field take to the water. Notre Dame would knock nearly 17 seconds off of its qualifying time and finish the course in a time of 6:35.775. However, the No. 1 BIG EAST seed and 19th nationally ranked (Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA)/USRowing poll) crew from Louisville was able to hold on for the victory with a time of 6:30.845. Georgetown was able to grab third place with a time of 6:39.289, holding off Syracuse and its time of 6:43.507. Rutgers (6:57.299) and Connecticut (7:08.959) would finish out the six-team varsity eight grand final.

Notre Dame will next be competing on Sat.-Sun., May 16-17 when it heads to the South/Central Sprints in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Last season the Irish finished seventh overall and fifth within the Central Region at the event.

Final BIG EAST Team Standings:1. NOTRE DAME - 112 points2. Syracuse - 97 points3. Louisville - 92 points4. Georgetown - 85 points5. Rutgers - 62 points6. Connecticut - 57 points7. Villanova - 46 points8. West Virginia - 38 points