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Rowing Opens Spring Season With Dual Regattas Against No.13 Tennessee And No.18 Duke

March 11, 2004

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame women’s rowing team begins its spring season with two dual regattas as part of its training trip over spring break. The Irish will row against 13th-ranked Tennessee on Saturday, March 13, at Lake Lanier in Knoxville, Tenn., before traveling to Oak Ridge, Tenn., to race against 18th-ranked Duke on Sunday, March 14, on Melton Lake.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS FOR SATURDAY AND SUNDAY: The order of events for Sunday are yet to be determined, but the race schedule for Saturday’s regatta is the following:

1. First Varsity Eight
2. First Novice Eight
3. First Varsity Four
4. Second Varsity Four
5. Second Novice Eight
6. Second Varsity Four

THE CREWS FOR THE WEEK: Notre Dame head coach Martin Stone will race the following crews on Saturday, against Tennessee:

First Varsity Eight – Maureen Gibbons (cox), Natalie Ladine (stroke), Alice Bartek, Meghan Boyle, Rachel Polinski, Melissa Felker, Katie Chenoweth, Danielle Protasewich and Jacqueline Hazen

Second Varsity Eight – Kacy McCaffrey (cox), Jessica Guzik (stroke), Kathleen Welsh, Kati Sedun, Jenna Redgate, Colleen Larson, Andrea Doud, Ashley St. Pierre and Megan Sanders

First Varsity Four – Kathryn Long (cox), Pamela Jefson (stroke), Meredith Thornburgh, Alyssa Close and Kristen Mizzi

Second Varsity Four – Caitlin Rackish (cox), Katie O’Hara (stroke), Danielle Stealy, Kristin Henkel and Tricia David

Third Varsity Four – Shannan Lettieri (cox), Sarah Keefer (stroke), Julie Lewis, Ann Mulligan and Jana Miller

Stone and assistant coach Pam Mork are still working on forming the Irish novice crews.

ABOUT NOTRE DAME: 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.

ABOUT TENNESSEE: Head coach Lisa Glenn, in her sixth season at Tennessee, strives to return to the NCAA Championships. In 2002-03, the Lady Vols’ first varsity eight earned an invitation to the NCAAs and ended the campaign with a ranking of 14th in the final CRCA varsity eight poll.

Saturday’s race against the Irish will be Tennessee’s first event of the spring season.

During the fall of 2003, Tennessee won seven gold medals and fared well versus some of the nation’s top teams. At the prestigious Head of the Charles, Tennessee placed 14th in the varsity eight, beating three teams that earned bids to the 2003 NCAA Championships. In the season-opening Chattagnooga Head Race, the Lady Vols won the varsity eight, varsity four and pairs race. To conclude the fall season, Tennessee took second place in the varsity four and third in the varsity eight at the Rivanna Romp in Charlottesville, Va.

DUAL-REGATTA HISTORY VERSUS TENNESSEE: Notre Dame traveled to Knoxville during spring break last season (March 15, 2003) to face the Lady Vols in a dual regatta. The regatta was run in three pieces with the Irish winning four of the 13 races. In the first session, Notre Dame was victorious in the first varsity four by six seconds, the second varsity four by over 15 seconds and the novice eight by more than six seconds. The Irish also won the second varsity eight by a mere 3.1 seconds in the final race of the day.

In 2001-02, Notre Dame and Tennessee also met in Knoxville for a dual regatta. Notre Dame took four of five races as the varsity eight won by over 15 seconds. The second eight won by seven seconds, while the novice eight was a 14-second winner and the second novice eight won by 12 seconds. The only crew that did not win was the third varsity eight, which lost by 20 seconds.

ABOUT DUKE: Under head coach Robyn Horner, the Duke University rowing team started its spring season on Feb. 28, at home against North Carolina. The Blue Devils won seven of the 12 races in the event. Duke also rowed on March 6 versus ACC-rival Virginia; the Cavaliers swept all nine races in the dual regatta at Lake Michie.

To start the ’03 fall slate, Duke raced at home against the Tar Heels, sweeping the varsity eight and varsity four races. The Blue Devils then competed at the Head of the Mon in West Virginia, placing third and fourth in the varsity eight race. Duke then traveled to the prestigious Head of the Charles where it came in 16th place in the Championship Eight. At the Head of the Hooch, the Blue Devils had ten different boats place in the top five, led by wins in the varsity eight, open four and club four. To conclude the fall season, Duke registered fourth- and sixth-place finishes in the varsity eight, and took fourth in the varsity four, at the Rivanna Romp.

DUAL-REGATTA HISTORY VERSUS DUKE: Sunday will mark the first time Notre Dame has faced Duke in a dual-regatta format.

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, and will face 16 of the 20 teams ranked in the CRCA/USRowing Varsity Eight preseason poll this spring.

Notre Dame opens the spring against 13th-ranked Tennessee and 18th-ranked Duke before heading to Ann Arbor, Mich., the next weekend to face Clemson and second-ranked Michigan, which placed second in the varsity eight at the 2003 NCAA Championships.

Following the tri-regatta versus the Tigers and the Wolverines, 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.14 Texas, Tennessee and Clemson.

After a competitive regatta against Indiana, Purdue and eighth-ranked Michigan State over the Easter holiday, the Irish head to the East Coast for races against 16th-ranked 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.

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 Acadmeic All-Star honors in 2003.

UP NEXT: Notre Dame will travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., on Saturday, March 27, for a tri-regatta against national powers Michigan, which is ranked second in the nation, and Clemson.