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Rowers Conclude Fall Season At The Head Of The Rock

Oct. 11, 2002

THIS WEEK: The Notre Dame women’s rowing team will conclude its fall season this weekend at the Head of the Rock Sunday, Oct. 13, in Rockford, Ill. The Head of the Rock is a 2.75-mile race which begins at Martin Park and finishes at the event grounds by Whitman Road in Rockford. The pairs race begins at 8:55 a.m., followed by the varsity four at 10:25 a.m. and the varsity eight race at 3:20 p.m.

THE CREWS FOR THE WEEKEND: Fresh off a good weekend at the Head of the Ohio where Notre Dame won two events and was fourth in the varsity eight, Irish head coach Martin Stone has put together the following crews for the Head of the Rock:

A: Ann Marie Dillhoff/Alice Bartek
B: Ashlee Warren/Kerri Murphy
C: Becky Luckett/Diane Price
D: Erica Drennen/Elizabeth Specht
E: Rachel Polinski/Katie Chenoweth
F: Natalie Ladine/Kathleen Welsh

A: Cassie Markstahler (cox), Casey Buckstaff, Meghan Boyle, Kati Sedun, Melissa Felker
B: Caitlin Rackish (cox), Shannon Mohan, Meredith Thornburgh, Christine Donnelly, Sarah Palandech

A: Cassie Markstahler (cox), Natalie Ladine, Ashlee Warren, Ann Marie Dillhoff, Alice Bartek, Elizabeth Specht, Erica Drennen, Kerri Murphy, Kathleen Welsh
B: Kathryn Long (cox), Kati Sedun, Becky Luckett, Casey Buckstaff, Meghan Boyle, Diane Price, Rachel Polinski, Katie Chenoweth, Melissa Felker
C: Maureen Gibbons (cox), Katie O’Hara, Shannon Mohan, Meredith Thornburgh, Christine Donnelly, Sarah Palendech, Kristen Henkel, Sarah Keefer, Megan Sanders
D: Rebecca Campbell (cox): Kristen Mizzi, Courtney Quinn, Katherine McCalden, Devon Hegeman, Antoinette Duck, Jenna Froberg, Danielle Stealy, Ann Mulligan

LAST YEAR AT THE HEAD OF THE ROCK: The novice eight won its race and the varsity eight was second at the 2001 Head of the Rock. The Irish varsity eight posted its best-ever finish at the event trailing only Wisconsin. In the pairs race, Notre Dame took four of the top five places. Iowa was first, followed by the pair team of Jayme Szefc and Katherine Burnett was second with Casey Buckstaff and Michelle Olsgard third. In the fours, Notre Dame was fifth and 12th.

LAST WEEK AT HEAD OF THE OHIO: Notre Dame won two races, including the open four, while the open eight was fourth at the 2002 Head of the Ohio. Both the club four and the varsity four were victorious, while the Irish took third through sixth places in the pairs race.

The club four team of coxswain Kathryn Long, Casey Buckstaff, Meghan Boyle, Katie Chenoweth and Meredith Thornburgh were first, while the second club four team of coxswain Rebecca Campbell, Katie O’Hara, Kristen Henkel, Antoinette Duck and Megan Sanders were fourth.

In the varsity four race, the team of coxswain Caitlin Rackish, Shannon Mohan, Melissa Felker, Christine Donnolly and Sarah Palandech also won its race.

Notre Dame claimed places three through six in the pairs race as Alice Bartek and Ann Marie Dillhoff were the top Irish finishers, followed by the duo of Kerry Murphy and Diane Price. Natalie Ladine and Ashlee Warren were fifth and Erica Drennen and Sarah Keefer were sixth.

In the open eight, the Irish A crew of coxswain Cassie Markstahler, Natalie Ladine, Ashlee Warren, Elizabeth Specht, Alice Bartek, Rachel Polinski, Erica Drennen, Kerri Murphy, and Kathleen Welsh finished fourth. Ohio State was first in 14:31, followed by Michigan State in 15:05, Boston University in 15:11 and Notre Dame in 15:05. The Irish B crew of (coxswain) Kathryn Long, Kati Sedun, Dillhoff, Buckstaff, Boyle, Price, Thornburgh, Chenoweth and Keefer was sixth.

The Irish crew of Maureen Gibbons (cox), Kristen Mizzi, Shannon Mohan, Felker, Donnolly, Danielle Stealy, Devon Hegeman, Sarah Palandech and Courtney Quinn placed second in the youth eight, while the youth four team of Gibbons (cox), Kristen Mizzi, Jenna Froberg, Danielle Stealy and Courtney Quinn was fourth.

HISTORY LESSON AND 2002 IN REVIEW: Notre Dame rowing, in only its fifth season, 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.

The Irish had its best season in history last year when they finished the year ranked 13th in the nation and qualified their varsity eight shell for the 2002 NCAA Rowing Championships in Indianapolis, Ind., placing 16th.

Notre Dame scored its first All-American in 2002 as current senior Ashlee Warren was named to the second team. Stone was also recognized as one of six finalists for National-Coach-of-the-Year honors.

The Irish finished the year with four rowers earning all-Central Region accolades (Warren, graduated seniors Michelle Olsgard, Katherine Burnett and current junior Natalie Ladine), and sixth athletes garnering CRCA National Scholar-Athlete honors (Burnett (who was a three-time recipient), Ladine, graduated senior Katie Besson, current seniors Becky Luckett and Cassie Markstahler and current junior Diane Price.

2002-03 SEASON OUTLOOK: Notre Dame head coach Martin Stone and his Irish rowing squad are looking to build on the success of last season in hopes of qualifying the entire team for the 2003 NCAA Rowing Championships. After entering the varsity eight at last year’s NCAA meet (where it finished 16th) and landing at 13th in the final preseason poll, the rowing community is starting to take notice of this upstart Irish program.

The Irish will have to work even harder to get back to the premier level they achieved last season. First and foremost, Notre Dame will have to replace the likes of first boaters Michelle Olsgard and Katherine Burnett. Olsgard, a team captain, earned her second consecutive first-team all-Central Region honor in 2002 and posted the third fastest erg score on the team. Burnett, a three-year member of the first eight, earned second team all-region honors and was a three-time National Scholar Athlete awardwinner.

“The losses of Michelle and Katherine will hurt our team,” Stone admits.

“They were such tremendous leader and worked so hard. No one hated losing more than those two.”

Stone will turn to senior Ashlee Warren, who became the first Irish rower to earn All-America honors, and junior Natalie Ladine, who was a second-team all-region honoree in 2002 and had the fastest erg score on the Irish last season. Ladine looks to move to the stroke seat for the 2002 season, while Warren will bounce between the sixth and seventh seats.

“Ashlee and Natalie were the strongest pullers in the boat last season and we expect that from them again this year,” Stone says.

“Their experience is also going to be critical as some of the younger athlete vie for spots in the boat.”

Also back is senior coxswain Cassie Markstahler who did an excellent job for the Irish in 2002 and will provide additional leadership to the younger rowers.

Others returning to the roster this season who have rowed in the top boat at some point of their careers are seniors Casey Buckstaff, Ann Marie Dillhoff and Becky Luckett, in addition to juniors Diane Price and Jayme Szefc (who is studying abroad this fall). Also look for seniors Erica Drennen and Kerri Murphy, juniors Alice Bartek, Kathleen Welsh, and Sarah Keefer and sophomores Elizabeth Specht, Rachel Polinski, Kati Sedun, Meredith Thornburgh and Shannon Mohan to also challenge for seats in the top boat as well.

“Although we lost two of the best rowers our program has had, we are excited about this season,” Stone says.

“There will be a lot of competition for seats in both the first and second eights this season, as well as in the third eight and the fours. We need to spend the fall season getting stronger and looking for the right combinations of rowers which will enable our boats to be fast for the spring.

“We are excited about what we accomplished last spring, but think there is still so much more out there for us. We would like to have the entire team advance to NCAAs this season.”