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Rowing Opens Spring Season With Dual Regatta Versus Tennessee

March 15, 2001

Knoxville, Tenn. – THIS WEEK: The Notre Dame women’s rowing team begins its spring season Saturday, March 17, with a dual regatta against the University of Tennessee. Start time is 9:30 a.m. on the water of Lake Loudoun. The schedule for Saturday’s 2,000-meter races is as follows:
9:30 a.m. Varsity Eight
9:45 a.m. Third Novice Eight
10:00 a.m. Second Novice Eight
10:15 a.m. Novice Eight
10:30 a.m. Second Varsity Eight
10:45 a.m. Varsity Four

ABOUT NOTRE DAME: The Notre Dame women’s rowing team completed a successful fall season competing in four regattas – the Chicago Chase, the Head of the Rock, the Head of the Grand and the Head of the Elk.

The Chicago Chase opened the fall season as the Irish won three races (the open pairs, the lightweight eight and the lightweight four). The pairs team of Becky Luckett and Ashlee Warren, competing in its first varsity race, took the gold medal on a day when wind made the Chicago River treacherous.

After the Irish won the lightweight four race and finished third in the varsity eight competition at the Head of the Rock in Rockford, Ill., Luckett and Warren took another gold medal as the Irish traveled to East Lansing, Mich., for the Head of the Grand. The duo outstroked some of the nation’s best rowers as Michigan State placed in the top eight in the nation last season at the NCAA regatta. Notre Dame took four of the top six places in the pairs race.

Notre Dame then experienced its most successful day in the history of the young program, winning four gold medals at the Head of the Elk in Elkhart, Ind. The Irish claimed their first varsity eight gold medal in a race of this magnitude, and then defended their lightweight four crown they had won a year earlier. Notre Dame also won the varsity four “A” and “B” races.

ABOUT TENNESSEE: The University of Tennessee is in its sixth season as varsity rowing program. The Lady Vols are under the direction of head coach Lisa Glenn, who is in her third season as head coach and is only the second head coach in the history of the program.

Tennessee is coming off a successful fall as well in which the varsity four shell won four gold medals. Losing only once all fall, the Lady Vols varsity four won the Chattahoochee Chase, the Head of the Chattahoochee, the Head of the Tennessee and the Head of Lake Hartwell.

The varsity eight boat also claimed gold at the Head of the Tennessee and was 11th at the Head of the Chattahoochee and third at the Head of Lake Hartwell.

IRISH HISTORY LESSON: Notre Dame rowing, in only its third 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.

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 scholarships under NCAA guidelines by the 2004-05 season. A non-scholarship program its first three seasons, Notre Dame is in line to receive as many as 20 full scholarships 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 scholarships 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.

NO FEAR FOR NEWCOMERS: The newcomers have made major contributions to the boats this season. In the fall, the sophomore duo of Becky Luckett and Ashlee Warren won two pairs races and placed fourth at the Head of the Rock. The freshman pair Diane Price and sophomore Ann Marie Dillhoff were second at the Chicago Chase. In the fall, the first varsity eight boat featured seven newcomers to the boat, including five athletes who were on the novice roster last season and one freshman. Senior Melissa Alberding, also rowing in the varsity eight boat this fall, missed all of last season after studying abroad.

THE SCHEDULE: 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 start the spring season with a week-long spring break training trip to Knoxville, Tenn. While there, Notre Dame will row against the University of Tennessee in a dual regatta on March 17.

The Irish then will return home for a regatta on the St. Joseph River on March 25, against Creighton, Marquette and Washington University. The course begins at Margaret Prickett Park in Mishawaka, with teams racing south on the river for 1,850 meters. Notre Dame then goes north for a March 31 date with national power Michigan State on the Grand River in East Lansing, Mich.

After playing host to Dayton at home on April 1, 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 meet. One week later (April 14), the full squad travels to Bloomington, Ind., for the Indiana Classic featuring Indiana, Purdue, Louisville and Tennessee.

The spring season really picks up starting April 21 when the Irish travel to the Midwest Sprints in Madison, Wis. This race showcases teams from the Central Region. This proves to be one of the most competitive races of the season and a great tune-up for April 29 and the BIG EAST Rowing Challenge in Worcester, Mass.

The Irish then head back to Oak Ridge, Tenn., on May 12-13, for the Central Region Championships. A good performance there could give the Irish their first invitation to the NCAA Championships scheduled for May 24-26, in Gainesville, Ga., on the waters of Lake Lanier.

UP NEXT: The Irish return to South Bend playing host to Marquette, Washington University and Creighton on Sunday, March 25, at Margaret Prickett Park in Mishawaka, Ind. Race time is yet to be determined.