Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Rowers Travel To Michigan State Then Play Host To Dayton On Sunday

March 30, 2001

Notre Dame, Ind. – THIS WEEK: The Notre Dame women’s rowing team travels to East Lansing, Mich., Saturday, March 31, taking on nationally ranked Michigan State in a dual regatta on the Grand River. Competition will begin with the varsity eight at 10:30 a.m. The varsity four is set to begin at 11:15 a.m., and will be followed by the novice eight competition at 11:30 a.m.

The crews will row on the Grand River, because Lake Ovid, the Spartans’ regular spring course, is still frozen. The best vantage point for spectators will be at Grand River Park. To get to Grand River Park, spectators should use the Lansing Road exit, just off of I-496.

Then on Sunday, the Irish return home playing host to the University of Dayton at 11:00 a.m., with the Novice Four race beginning the day. The first varsity eight will follow at 11:15 a.m., with the second varsity eight at 11:30 a.m. The first novice eight is scheduled to go at 11:45 a.m., followed by the second novice eight at 12:00 p.m. The varsity four will conclude the day’s races at 12:30 p.m.

For Sunday’s regatta, the best vantage point of the races is at Margaret Prickett Park in Mishawaka, located off Jefferson Street across from the AM General Hummer Plant.

ABOUT NOTRE DAME: Notre Dame opened its spring season by sweeping all six races March 17, versus Tennessee in a dual regatta on Lake Loudoin in Knoxville, Tenn. The regatta concluded a week-long training trip for the Irish rowers.

The Irish second varsity eight squad of Erin Kiernicki, Katie Besson, Cassie Murphy, Erica Drennen, Courtney Mercer, Melissa Alberding, Meg Feely, Anne Starks and Leah Ashe finished first in 6:17.20. Tennessee was second at 6:29.60, while Notre Dame’s third varsity eight vessel of coxswain Kathryn Long, Rebecca Campbell, Caitlin Murray, Andrea Amoni, Kristi Schmidt, Erin Shea, Ann Gurucharri, Jessica Mankse and Elizabeth Kinnier were third in 6:38.40.

Notre Dame then claimed the third novice eight race with a time of 7:44.68, bettering Tennessee’s time of 8:23.15.

In the first novice eight event, the Irish team of coxswain Kacy McCaffrey, Sarah Keefer, Kathleen Walsh, Natalie Ladine, Jacqueline Hazen, Danielle Protasewich, Katie O’Hara, Ashlee Logan and Megan Sanders won its race by over nine seconds. Notre Dame crossed the finish line in 7:08.45. Tennessee finished in 7:17.86.

In what proved to be the closest race of the day, Notre Dame narrowly edged the Lady Vols in the second novice eight race. Notre Dame finished in 7:15.60, while Tennessee timed in at 7:18.90.

The Irish dominated the varsity eight race as the Theodore M. Hesburgh boat of cox Claire Bula, Jayme Szefc, Ann Marie Dillhoff, Ashlee Warren, Michelle Olsgard, Diane Price, Becky Luckett, Casey Buckstaff and Katherine Burnett clocked in at 6:37.33. Tennessee finished 15 seconds later at 6:52.65.

The varsity four team of Cassie Markstahler, Kolleen Myers, Maureen Carr, Katie McCalden and Laura Aull took gold winning by 11 seconds. It marked only the second loss for the Tennessee varsity four during the 2000-01 season. Notre Dame finished in 7:47.18 compared to 7:58.10 for the Lady Vols.

AGAINST CREIGHTON: Notre Dame finished first, second and fourth in defeating Creighton in a single head-style race last Sunday in adverse weather conditions on the St. Joseph River in South Bend. Temperatures were hovering around the 20-degree mark with windchills near zero as racing was run into 10-15 mile per hour headwinds.

The first varsity eight team of Claire Bula, Jayme Szefc, Ann Marie Dillhoff, Ashlee Warren, Michelle Olsgard, Diane Price, Becky Luckett, Casey Buckstaff and Katherine Burnett covered the 1,500 meter course in five minutes and 22 seconds in finishing first. The second varsity eight team of Erin Kiernicki, Katie Besson, Cassie Murphy, Erica Drennen, Courtney Mercer, Melissa Alberding, Meg Feely, Anne Starks and Leah Ashe was second in 5:35. Creighton’s first varsity eight shell was third in 5:50, while Notre Dame’s first novice eight was fourth in 5:55.

ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE: Notre Dame will compete against one of the nation’s best teams in Michigan State on Saturday. The Spartans placed eighth at the 2000 NCAA Rowing Championships last year, while the open eight boat finished eighth in the individual competition. The second open eight vessel was seventh at the NCAAs last year.

The two teams competed against each other earlier this season at the Head of the Grand on October 12, 2000, in East Lansing. Notre Dame won two races, taking gold medals in the first novice eight and the open pairs race, while finishing second in the pairs and the second novice eight. The regatta, a 3,300 meter course, opened with the first novice eight race as the Irish outdistanced Michigan State’s first boat by eight seconds, finishing in a time of 12:26.

In the open pairs event, the Irish had great success taking four of the first six places. The team of sophomores Becky Luckett and Ashlee Warren continued their early success by winning the race in 13:04. The duo of freshman Diane Price and sophomore Ann Marie Dillhoff were second in 13:12, eight seconds behind Luckett and Warren, while junior Katherine Burnett and freshman Jayme Szefc were fourth in 13:17.

The Irish varsity eight team of Dillhoff, Melissa Alberding, Julia Kelly, Casey Buckstaff, Luckett, Warren, Burnett, Szefc and coxswain Erin Kiernicki placed third in a time of 11:12. Michigan State was first and second in 10:41 and 11:04, respectively. The Irish also placed fourth and fifth in the varsity four race and was second in the second novice eight race.

ABOUT DAYTON: The University of Dayton is in its second season as a varsity rowing program after competing as a club sport since 1991. Dayton head coach Mike Miles is in his second year at the helm of the Flyers rowing program. Prior to his head coaching stint, Miles served as a part-time head coach of the Dayton club rowing program since its inception in 1991.

The Flyers started the spring season strong after winning two races against Louisville on Saturday, March 24, at East Wood MetroPark. The conditions for Saturday’s 1,850-meter races were less than ideal as snow and strong winds made racing extremely difficult for the rowers.

The Dayton varsity eight recovered after a slow start and took first place by over nine seconds in the first race of the day. The novice eight event was an exciting race as the Flyers won by .5 seconds in narrowly defeating the Cardinals. Dayton was looking to make a clean sweep of the day with a victory in the varsity four, but an equipment problem in the final 200 meters allowed Louisville to narrowly defeat the Flyers. The novice four event was cancelled due to worsening weather conditions.

IRISH HISTORY LESSON: Notre Dame rowing, in only its third season of varsity competition, was granted that 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.

HEAD COACH MARTIN STONE: On Oct. 29, 1997, Martin Stone was hired as the first head coach of the Notre Dame rowing program. Now is his third season at the helm, Stone is poised for his best year yet with the Irish. In 1998-99, Stone sent the program off to a rousing start as he led the lightweight eight vessel to a No. 12 national ranking in its first year of competition. In his second season, Stone saw dramatic improvement from his squad that boasted the talents of Katrina Ten Eyck, one of the top rowers in the nation. Ten Eyck was invited to train at the United States Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. This fall, Stone showed just how far the program had come as he led his 2000-01 team to four gold medals at the Head of the Elk Regatta in the fall.

Before arriving at Notre Dame, Stone served as the women’s rowing coach at the United States Naval Academy for five years. In 1994, Stone coached the Mids to a NCAA Division II national championship by winning the varsity eight title at the Champion International Collegiate Rowing Championships. In the championship, Navy also won the first novice and second novice championship races. The Mids not only earned the title, but also were awarded the prestigious Anita DeFrantz Trophy for overall performance by women’s crews at the Champion International Regatta.

Prior to taking over the Mids’ women’s program, Stone served as Navy’s plebe lightweight coach in 1991. He also was an assistant rowing coach at his alma mater, Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif., in 1990, working with both the men’s and women’s programs and more specifically, with the varsity and novice women.

Stone began his rowing career at Saint Mary’s College as an undergraduate. With the Gaels, he was named the most valuable oarsman three years and went on to earn three letters, two in the heavyweight boat and one in the lightweight boat.

SHOW ME THE MONEY: In December of 2000, first-year Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White announced the rowing program, along with the other 25 sports at Notre Dame, would receive the full complement of grants-in-aid under NCAA guidelines by the 2004-05 season. A non-grant-in-aid program its first three seasons, Notre Dame is in line to receive as many as 20 full grants-in-aid over the next four years.

“It is very exciting for our program to now have the opportunity to go out and recruit on equal footing. The grants-in-aid will allow us to be more competitive than we already are,” head coach Martin Stone says.

THE BIG EAST ROWING CHALLENGE: In early January, the BIG EAST Conference announced plans to officially sponsor the BIG EAST Rowing Challenge for its nine member institutions who currently field rowing teams. The event, scheduled for April 29 on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass., replaces the Georgetown Invitational which had been hosting a similar, non-sponsored event the past nine years.

“Although it is on a trial basis, it is a big step for the conference and women’s rowing to have the BIG EAST sponsor the meet. Hopefully this will lead to an official BIG EAST championship regatta, now that we have the required number of teams to host a championship” head coach Martin Stone says.

BIG EAST commissioner Michael Tranghese concurred:

“The BIG EAST is excited to add this event. The league continues to identify new programs for women and the inclusion of this Challenge creates more opportunities for our female student-athletes.”

TWO BOATS CHRISTENED AT HALFTIME OF GEORGETOWN MEN’S BASKETBALL GAME: The Notre Dame women’s rowing team christened two new racing shells during halftime of the men’s basketball game Sunday, March 4, against Georgetown. The two Vespoli Millennium shells were named for and christened by University of Notre Dame president emeritus Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh C.S.C and Rev. Edmund P. Joyce C.S.C. in front of a sold-out Joyce Center crowd.

It what is a long-standing tradition within the collegiate rowing community, boats are christened and named to honor individuals who have been influential within the University or the sport of rowing. Both Rev. Hesburgh and Rev. Joyce have been trailblazers at the University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh was influential in allowing women to enroll and study at the University in 1972, and Joyce was instrumental in bringing women’s athletics to campus that same year and helping Notre Dame in its drive toward achieving gender equity.

Also present at the ceremony were Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White, associate athletic director and rowing administrator Jim Phillips, head rowing coach Martin Stone, assistant coaches Pam Mork and Kevin Luecke and the Notre Dame women’s rowing team.

THE CAPTAINS: Head coach Martin Stone will have strong leadership this season as Claire Bula and Erin Kiernicki have been named captains for the 2000-01 season. Bula is in her third season with the Irish and was a nominee for the US Rowing Honor Roll last year. She is enrolled in the College of Arts and Letters, majoring in American studies. Kiernicki is also in her third season of competition for the Irish and is enrolled in the College of Business, majoring in marketing and sociology.

WELCOME BACK: Notre Dame welcomes back three athletes who were studying abroad during the fall semester. Back for the Irish are Katie Besson, Courtney Mercer and Michelle Olsgard, all who rowed in the first varsity eight during the spring of 2000. Besson spent the fall in London, while Mercer studied in Ireland and Olsgard took part in Columbia University’s Biosphere 2 program in Arizona.

The Irish also welcome back Meg Feely, who is healthy after suffering injuries in a car accident over the summer. Feely was the stroke in the second varsity eight during the spring of 2000.

WHILE SOME RETURN, OTHERS GO: The Irish will be missing the services of sophomore Julia Kelly during the spring season as she is studying abroad in Italy. Kelly rowed in the first varsity eight boat during the fall semester. Also senior Sara Andrews will miss the entire spring season due to a leg injury. Andrews rowed with the lightweight eight crew and the varsity four in the fall.

HI, MY NAME IS…: This season, 20 of the 33 varsity roster members are new to the team. The development of the novice program, under the direction of assistant coaches Pam Mork and Kevin Luecke, is paying big dividends for the Irish this season as 16 women have made the jump from the novice to the varsity roster. Head coach Martin Stone also welcomes five freshman to the varsity team this season.

UP NEXT: After an intense fall that saw Notre Dame go up against some of the region’s best competition, the spring will prove even more challenging. Notre Dame will hit both the east and the west coasts, competing against the nation’s best crews. The Irish make their first trip west in the history of the program, launching in San Diego, Calif., for the San Diego Crew Classic (April 7-8). This event will be Notre Dame’s first-ever look at teams from the West Region and will give the Irish a good indication as to where they stand nationally.

While the varsity one and two crews are in California, the varsity three and novice crews travel to Des Moines, Iowa, to face Drake in a dual regatta.