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Rowing Plays Host To Kansas Saturday and Sunday

Sept. 26, 2002

THIS WEEK: The Notre Dame women’s rowing team will play host to the University of Kansas Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 28-29, at the Notre Dame Boathouse (corner of Jefferson Street and St. Louis Drive) on the banks of the St. Joseph River. Saturday’s race will be with the fours at 4:00 p.m., while Sunday’s tilt will feature the eights starting at 12 noon.

THE CREWS FOR THE WEEKEND: Fresh off a successful weekend at the Milwaukee River Challenge in Milwaukee, Wis., Irish head coach Martin Stone has put together the following boats for the weekend:

Saturday’s Varsity Fours:
A: Becky Campbell (cox), Katie O’Hara, Shannon Mohan, Meredith Thornburgh, Megan Sanders
B: Cassie Markstahler (cox), Ann Marie Dillhoff, Ashlee Warren, Becky Luckett, Casey Buckstaff

Sunday’s Varsity Eights:
A: Cassie Markstahler (cox), Natalie Ladine, Ashlee Warren, Elizabeth Specht, Alice Bartek, Rachel Polinski, Erica Drennen, Kerri Murphy, Kathleen Welsh
B: Kati Sedun, Ann Marie Dillhoff, Casey Buckstaff, Meghan Boyle, Diane Price, Meredith Thornburgh, Katie Chenowith, Sarah Keefer, Kathryn Long
C: Maureen Gibbons (cox), Kristen Mizzi, Shannon Mohan, Melissa Felker, Christy Donnelly, Danielle Stealy, Jenna Froberg, Sarah Palandech, Megan Sanders
D: Caitlin Rackish (cox), Katie O’Hara, Courtney Quinn, Katherine McCalden, Kristin Henkel, Antoinette Duck, Fallon Shields, Devon Hegeman, Alicia Garcia
E: Rebecca Campbell, Ann Mulligan, Tricia David, Andrea Amoni, Tori Blainey, Corrine Roman, Jennifer Connelly, Kristen Wright, Beth Franzosa.

ABOUT KANSAS: The University of Kansas rowing team forges into the 2002-03 season with a challenging schedule. The Jayhawks open the fall season at a dual with Notre Dame before traveling to the Head of the Rock in Rockford, Ill., and the Head of the Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. The team concludes its fall schedule with a home regatta, hosting Kansas State in the Sunflower Showdown.

The Crimson and Blue crew opens its spring season at a dual with the University of Texas, followed by trips to the Knecht Cup (Camden, N.J.), Kansas State (Manhattan, Kan.) and Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio).

After graduating 11 seniors at the conclusion of last season, the Jayhawks return more than 20 members to the varsity roster. Eight seniors, with a wealth of experience, lead the varsity roster of 35.

Head coach Rob Catloth embarks on his eighth season in Crimson and Blue, while assistant coaches Jennifer Myers and Abby Rosdahl enter their fourth and second seasons, respectively.

The KU rowers wrapped-up another successful season last spring finishing in a tie for second place at the Big 12 Invitational in Austin, Texas, and with a tie for eighth place at the NCAA Central Regionals in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

LAST WEEK AT THE MILWAUKEE RIVER CHALLENGE: The Notre Dame rowing team took two of the top four positions in the varsity eight race at the season-opening Milwaukee River Challenge in Milwaukee, Wis. The Irish claimed second and fourth places in the race, which was run over a 2.2-mile course. Each crew rowed two races in opposite directions over the same water and was separately timed with the lowest combined time being the grand winner.

Notre Dame’s first varsity eight crew of Cassie Markstahler (cox), Natalie Ladine (stroke), Ashlee Warren, Elizabeth Specht, Alice Bartek, Rachel Polinski, Erica Drennen, Kerri Murphy and Kathleen Welsh placed second in a time of 21.56. Iowa’s first eight was the grand winner in 21.51.

The Irish second varsity eight crew of Kathryn Long (cox), Kati Sedun (stroke), Ann Marie Dillhoff, Casey Buckstaff, Becky Luckett, Diane Price, Meredith Thornburgh, Shannon Mohan and Sarah Keefer placed fourth in a time of 22.17. Notre Dame’s fourth varsity eight of Maureen Gibbons (cox) Tricia David (stroke), Ann Mulligan, Tori Blainey, Kristen Wright, Jennifer Connelly, Corinne Roman, Beth Franzosa and Courtney Quinn finished 13th, while the third eight of Caitlin Rackish (cox), Kristen Mizzi (stroke), Katie Chenowith, Kristin Henkel, Devon Hegemen, Antoinette Duck, Fallon Shields, Katie McCalden and Jenna Froberg was 20th.

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 finalist 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.”

THE SCHEDULE: After this weekend, Notre Dame will travel to Pittsburgh, Pa., on Oct. 5 for the Head of the Ohio, before going to Rockford, Ill., on Oct. 13 for the Head of the Rock.