Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Rowing Starts Fall Season at the Head of the Rock

Oct. 10, 2003

by Nicole Rapagnani

THIS WEEK: The Notre Dame women’s rowing team will begin its fall season this weekend at the 18th annual Head of the Rock regatta on Sunday, Oct. 12, in Rockford, Ill. Racing starts at 8:45 a.m. with the men’s pairs.

ABOUT THE HEAD OF THE ROCK: The Head of the Rock is a 2.75-mile race, which begins south of the Riverside Street Bridge at Martin Park and finishes north of the Whitman Street Bridge, running along the Rock River Bike Path.

Traditionally the race brought more than 1,700 participants with 60-plus clubs, universities and unaffiliated racers in 400 shells and 34 events.

For more information about Sunday’s events, please visit

SCHEDULE FOR THE HEAD OF THE ROCK: The Head of the Rock will begin Sunday morning with the men’s pairs at 8:45 a.m. with racing taking place all day. The following are the races in which the Irish will be competing:

8:55 a.m. – Women’s Pairs
10:25 a.m. – Women’s Varsity Four
3:20 p.m. – Women’s Varsity Eight

THE CREWS FOR THE WEEKEND: Head coach Martin Stone is still working on the crews for the weekend and were unavailable at press time.

LAST YEAR AT THE HEAD OF THE ROCK: Notre Dame has experienced great success in the past at the Head of the Rock as the varsity fours took first and third and the eights were third, fifth and seventh last year. In the pairs, the Irish took four of the top eight places and six of the top 16. Iowa took first followed by the Irish pair of Ashlee Warren and Katie Murphy and third- place Ann Marie Dillhoff and Alice Bartek.

HISTORY LESSON AND 2003 IN REVIEW: Notre Dame rowing, in its sixth 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.

In the spring of 2003, the Irish were looking to improve upon the success of the 2002 season in which the first varsity eight qualified and went to the NCAA Rowing Championship. The spring season included competition against many national powers, such as Washington, Michigan, Iowa and Clemson. While the Irish remained ranked 24th in the country for most of the season, it wasn’t enough to qualify for the 2003 NCAA Rowing Championship.

The Irish experienced their best weekend of the 2003 season at the 2003 BIG EAST Rowing Challenge, winning the second varsity eight and both the first and second varsity four events, while also taking the silver medal in the varsity eight. This led to Notre Dame’s close finish in the team competition as the Irish placed only two points behind then 15th-ranked Syracuse. The Orangewomen, who won their third consecutive team championship, finished with 112 points, compared to 110 for the Irish.

The Irish fared well against top-ranked competition throughout the season and with over 100,000 fans watching, the most to attend a Notre Dame athletic event for the 2002-03 school year, at the 2003 Windermere Cup on Lake Washington in Seattle. The Irish competed against Washington, nationally-ranked Washington State and Oregon State, and the Belarus National Team, which had three of the women who competed and finished fifth at the 2002 World Championships in Sevelle, Spain. Notre Dame’s varsity eight placed third, while the second eight was fourth and the varsity four was third.

At the 2003 Lexus Central/South Sprints in Oak Ridge, Tenn., the most important regatta for qualifying for the NCAA Championships, the Irish were up against teams such as Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa, vying for bids to the NCAA Championships. Notre Dame’s best finish of the weekend was claiming the gold medal in second varsity four competition. This marked the first time a Notre Dame crew has won a gold medal at the Central/South Sprints in the short five-year history of the program. The previous highest finish was in 2002 when the novice eight finished third. The varsity eight came back strong to place second in the petite finals and eighth overall, while the second varsity eight finished sixth in the grand final and the varsity four was third in the petite finals and ninth overall.

2003-04 SEASON OUTLOOK: With the loss of team captains Ashlee Warren and Casey Buckstaff and coxswain Cassie Markstahler to graduation, head coach Martin Stone and the Irish will have some tough spots to fill in 2003-04. Warren, an All-American in 2002, earned her third consecutive first-team all-Central Region honor in 2003 and second CRCA National Scholar-Athlete Award. She was also named the 2003 BIG EAST/A?ropostal? Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year for Notre Dame and was a finalist for the 2003 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship program as she started medical school at Ohio State this fall.

Buckstaff rowed as part of the first varsity eight since her sophomore year earning three monograms as an Irish rower and was named to the BIG EAST Academic All-Star team as a sophomore and senior. Markstahler, a three-year monogram winner, coxed the first varsity eight for the Irish in both 2002 and 2003, leading Notre Dame to its first-ever NCAA Championship appearance in the varsity eight. She also earned two consecutive CRCA National Scholar-Athlete awards and was a member of the BIG EAST Academic All-Star team in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

The 2003-04 team will look to seniors Natalie Ladine, Alice Bartek, Danielle Protasewich, Kathleen Welsh and Jacqueline Hazen. Ladine has two years under her belt in the first varsity eight and led the boat in the stroke seat this past season. She was also named a CRCA second-team all-Central Region winner for the second straight year. Ladine also posted the third-fastest erg score in Irish history last spring. Bartek holds the Notre Dame erg record for the 2,000 meters and was named to the BIG EAST Academic All-Star team. Protasewich sat bow seat of the first varsity eight in the spring of 2003 and was named to the BIG EAST Academic All-Star team in 2002. Welsh and Hazen have each earned two monograms. Welsh sat in the two seat of the first varsity eight in the spring of 2003, while Hazen was a member of the gold medal winning fours at both the BIG EAST and Central Sprints and was named to the BIG EAST Academic All-Star team in 2002.

Also expected to help the Irish this season are juniors Rachel Polinski and Katie Chenoweth and sophomore Meghan Boyle. All three were members of the first varsity eight last season and helped the Irish to a second-place team and varsity eight finish at the 2003 BIG EAST Rowing Challenge and an invitation to the prestigious Windermere Cup in Seattle during the spring.

Seniors Kathryn Long and Kacy McCaffrey and junior Maureen Gibbons will look to fill the position of first varsity eight coxswain vacated with the graduation of Cassie Markstahler. Long started out as a rower her freshmen year and transitioned to coxswain that spring. She has spent most of her time coxing the second varsity eight the past two seasons and has earned two monograms with the Irish. She was also named to the BIG EAST Academic All-Star team in 2002. McCaffrey has experience with both fours and eights in her previous three seasons at Notre Dame and has earned two monograms. She was named to the BIG EAST Academic All-Star team in 2002. Gibbons was the coxswain of the first novice eight her freshmen year and moved to varsity coxswain her sophomore year, coxing both varsity fours and varsity eights.

Look for senior Megan Sanders, juniors Elizabeth Specht, Kati Sedun and Meredith Thornburgh and sophomores Melissa Felker, Andrea Doud, Danielle Stealy, Sarah Palandech, Jenna Redgate and Sarah French to challenge for seats in the top boat this year as well.

The Irish also welcome five freshmen to the roster this fall, all who could challenge for positions in the top boats. First-year rowers Ashley St. Pierre, Alyssa Close, Jessica Guzik and Colleen Larson and coxswain Erin Weedon could all make immediate impacts for the Irish in 2003-04.

“The seniors are doing a great job in getting the rest of the team ready for the season,” Stone says.

“The seniors have made tremendous strides during the offseason and are taking it amongst themselves to challenge the younger rowers so they improve as well. The competition has been fierce between all of the rowers thus far and that will only make us better.”

HEAD COACH Martin Stone: Head coach Martin Stone is in his sixth year at the helm of the Irish program and was named a National Coach of the Year finalist in 2002. Stone has brought instant credibility to this young program as the Irish qualified the varsity eight for the 2002 NCAA Championships in only the fourth year of the program, where it placed 16th. The Irish finished the 2002 season ranked 13th nationally, the highest final ranking in the history of the program, and the team was as high as ninth earlier in the season. Notre Dame also scored its first All-American as Ashlee Warren was named to the second team in 2002 and nine women have been named to the all-Central Region team during his tenure.

Stone’s teams have also achieved great success in the classroom as the Irish have posted 11 consecutive semesters of a 3.2 overall team grade-point average or higher. Also, 15 women have been named to the CRCA National Scholar-Athlete team and over 60 women have earned Academic all-BIG EAST standing in the past three years.

ASSISTANT COACH Pam Mork: Notre Dame assistant rowing coach Pam Mork was named the 2003 Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year and was one of six finalists, along with Connecticut’s Cindy Biles, Clemson’s Kelly Lynch, Washington’s Eleanor McElvaine, Virginia’s Kara McPhillip and West Virginia’s Jim Mitchell, for the National Assistant Coach of the Year Award.

Mork is in her fifth season with the Irish, working specifically with the Irish novice program. She has coached many of today’s varsity athletes when they first arrived as members of the program as 28 women on the ’01-’02 squad and all but 11 women on the ’02-’03 team were members of the novice roster at some point during their careers.

ASSISTANT COACH Joe Schlosberg: Irish assistant coach Joe Schlosberg is in his third season working primarily with the fours. Schlosberg and the fours had a great year in 2003 as he directed the Irish second four to the gold medal at the Central/South Sprints, marking the first time in Notre Dame history an Irish boat has won a gold medal at that regatta. Notre Dame also was victorious in the first and second four at the 2003 BIG EAST Rowing Challenge in Worcester, Mass., the first time in history the Irish have won both races at that regatta.

THE SCHEDULE: After this weekend, the Irish head to the prestigious Head of the Charles. The Irish will travel to Boston, Mass., on Oct. 18-19, for the world’s largest two-day rowing event. In its 39th year, the Head of the Charles attracts up to 300,000 spectators during the October weekend and 2003 marks the first-ever appearance for the Irish at this event.