May 12, 2001
Oak Ridge, Tenn. – Notre Dame advanced three teams to the grand finals and two teams to the petite finals Saturday at the Lexus Central Sprints on the waters on Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Conditions Saturday were perfect as temperatures were in the mid 70s with no wind.
The varsity eight team of Katherine Burnett, Diane Price, Becky Luckett, Casey Buckstaff, Michelle Olsgard, Ashlee Warren, Ann Marie Dillhoff, Jayme Szefc and Claire Bula continued its great season by taking third in its semifinal heat and advancing to the grand finals on Sunday. The crew, who had to finish in the top three of its semifinal heat to advance to the grand finals, battled Texas to the end, narrowly defeating the Longhorns in a time of 6:38.70 for the third and final position. Texas crossed the line in 6:40.20. Eighth-ranked Ohio State was first in the heat in 6:35.40, while Michigan State was second (6:37.70).
The varsity eight’s third-place finish also has huge implications in its quest for an NCAA championship berth in that event. With Clemson failing to advance to the semifinals today, that opened the door for Texas or Notre Dame to improve its chances of receiving an at-large bid with the team finishing higher in heat two gaining the upper hand. NCAA tournament berths will be announced on Tuesday afternoon.
The Irish second varsity eight of Leah Ashe, Anne Starks, Maureen Carr, Melissa Alberding, Courtney Mercer, Erica Drennen, Kerri Murphy, Katie Besson and Erin Kiernicki also advanced for the grand finals by placing second in its heat in a time of 7:04.70. In another close race, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Kansas battled back and forth before Michigan State took control at the halfway mark. The Irish and Jayhawks continued to jockey for position before a late push by Notre Dame gave them a second-place finish and a position in the grand finals. Michigan State was first in 7:00.80, with Kansas’ third-place time being 7:09.0.
After catching an oar in a buoy in the opening heat of the day, Notre Dame’s novice eight suffered a heartbreaking loss in its semifinal heat as the Irish placed fourth in its heat in 7:26.20. Only the top three teams from each heat advance to the grand finals. Michigan State nosed out the Irish by.4 of a second in 7:25.80. Notre Dame will race in the petite finals on Sunday.
The varsity four finished third in its repechage heat (another heat featuring the teams that finished second through sixth in the morning races) and just missed the grand finals with the top two teams advancing. Clemson was first in 7:42.0, followed by Michigan State (7:45.70) and the Irish (7:50.40)
The Irish second varsity four, who did not compete today, will also race in the grand finals on Sunday.