March 26, 2004

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame women’s rowing team will continue the spring portion of its season Saturday, March 27, as the Irish travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., for a regatta against national-power Michigan, Clemson, Eastern Michigan and Michigan State. The Wolverines and Spartans are both ranked in the top 10 of the first USRowing/CRCA poll of the spring; Michigan is second and Michigan State is ranked eighth. The Spartans, though, are only sending their novice boats to Saturday’s regatta.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS FOR SATURDAY: The following is the schedule of events for Saturday’s regatta:

11:15 Second Novice Eight
11:30 First Novice Eight
11:45 Third Varsity Four
12:00 Second Varsity Four
12:15 Varsity Four
12:30 Second Varsity Eight
12:45 Varsity Eight


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), Jessica Guzik, Kathleen Welsh, Kati Sedun, Jenna Redgate, Elizabeth Specht, Andrea Doud, Ashley St. Pierre, Megan Sanders

Varsity Four: Kathryn Long (cox), Katie O’Hara, Danielle Stealy, Pamela Jefson, Kristen Mizzi

Second Varsity Four: Caitlin Rackish (cox), Kristin Henkel, Meredith Thornburgh, Alyssa Close, Colleen Larson

Third Varsity Four: Shannan Lettieri (cox), Sarah Keefer, Ann Mulligan, Courtney Quinn, Tricia David

Novice Eight: Eileen Froehlke (cox), Sarah Kate Hafner, Ariel Klingaman, Shannon Cassel, Beth Hatch, Danielle Potts, Sarah Shaw, Meghan Chidsey, Colleen McCotter

Novice Four: Maria Romano (cox), Audrey deGuire, Alicia Cooper, Samantha Glass, Kaitlin Sharkey

ABOUT NOTRE DAME: The Irish began their spring schedule by winning six races against Michigan State and 13th-ranked Tennessee 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 will be racing on Saturday for the first time since its competition versus the Blue Devils on March 14th.

ABOUT MICHIGAN: The Michigan rowing team had a very successful fall campaign following an outstanding ’02-’03 season, which included a second-place finish by the first varsity eight at the 2003 NCAA Championships.

This fall, the Wolverines placed ninth in the varsity eight race in the Women’s Championship Eight at the prestigious Head of the Charles while the varsity four picked up 13th overall in the Women’s Championship Four. Michigan concluded its fall slate at the Head of the Elk. All four of the Wolverines eights had top-four showings, including a first-place result by the second varsity eight.

Michigan’s current No. 2 national ranking is the highest the team has ever been slotted in the preseason poll.

Michigan is opening its spring season by hosting Clemson, Eastern Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame on Saturday.

ABOUT CLEMSON: Clemson received one vote in the first USRowing/CRCA poll of ’04 and comes into this weekend’s races undefeated, earning wins over North Carolina and Miami (Fla.).

The Tigers kicked off their spring season against the Tar Heels, sweeping every event. The following weekend, Clemson remained undefeated in the varsity eight, finishing 5.5 seconds ahead of the Hurricanes. The Tigers also won the novice eight and the varsity four.

ABOUT EASTERN MICHIGAN: Eastern Michigan finished seventh overall at the Head of the Elk to conclude its fall season. The Eagles placed third in the varsity eight.

To start the spring slate, Eastern Michigan competed at the Lubbers’ Cup in Grand Rapids, Mich., taking first and second in the varsity eight race.

ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE: Michigan State kicked off its spring season against Duke, sweeping all four racing pieces in the varsity four while the varsity eight won three of their four pieces.

The next day (March 13), the Spartans traveled to Knoxville, Tenn., to take on Notre Dame and Tennessee in a series of three races for each event. The Spartans varsity four, second varsity eight and second novice eight swept their competitors to take first in all three sessions. The varsity eight placed third in two of the three heats, and managed to pull ahead of the Irish in the last session to earn a second place finish.

This weekend, Michigan State’s novice boats will be competing in the varsity four events as well as the novice races in Ann Arbor and the Spartans’ varsity boats will travel to San Francisco for the prestigious Windermere Cup.

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.

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 will travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday 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. 6 Stanford, No. 10 Washington, No. 11 California, No. 12 USC, No. 15 Washington State, Oregon State and UCLA. Other standout teams from around the country will also be participating in the Classic, including No. 13 Tennessee, No. 14 Texas 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.

A LOOK AT THE POLLS: After beginning the spring with races against national powers Tennessee, Michigan State and Duke, the Irish enter the first US Rowing/CRCA Poll of the season just outside of the top 20.

US Rowing/CRCA Poll
As of March 11

1. Brown University
2. University of Michigan
3t. Princeton University
3t. Yale University
5. Harvard University
6. Stanford University
7. University of Virginia
8. Michigan State University
9. The Ohio State University
10. University of Washington
11. University of California at Berkeley
12. University of Southern California
13. University of Tennessee
14. University of Texas
15. Washington State University
16. Boston University
17. Syracuse University
18. Duke University
19. University of Wisconsin
20. University of Iowa

Others receiving votes: Cornell University 32, Oregon State University 27, University of Notre Dame 12, University of Massachusetts 7, University of Minnesota 7, Columbia University 4, University of Pennsylvania 4, Northeastern University 2, Clemson University 1, University of California at Los Angeles 1, and University of Miami 1.

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 travel to San Diego, Calif., on Saturday and Sunday, April 3 and 4, for the San Diego Crew Classic. At the Classic, the Irish will face many of the nation’s best, including the following seven top-15 teams: No. 6 Stanford, No. 10 Washington, No. 11 California, No. 12 USC, No. 13 Tennessee, No. 14 Texas, No. 15 Washington State.