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Women crowned champions

Christine Armstrong | Wednesday, April 28, 2004

The women’s rowing team has enjoyed a stellar week, collecting awards both on and off the water. The Irish swept their varsity races on Sunday to win their first Big East Women’s Rowing Challenge title on Worcester’s Lake Quinsigamond. Head coach Martin Stone was also named Big East Coach of the Year.On Monday, several rowers were honored for their work in the classroom, including Megan Sanders who received the Top Gun Award at the 12th Annual Academic Excellence Awards Dinner.The Irish, who lost to Syracuse in the last three BIG EAST competitions, triumphed in four out of five races for a team total of 116 points, outscoring Miami, Syracuse, Rutgers, Georgetown, Boston College, Connecticut, Villanova and West Virginia. With four individual race wins, Notre Dame tied Syracuse’s 2002 crew for the most number of victories at one challenge.Maureen Gibbons, cox, Natalie Ladin, Alice Bartek, Meghan Boyle, Rachel Polinski, Melissa Felker, Katie Chenowith, Danielle Protasewich and Jacqueline Hazen led the varsity eight-crew to a time of 6:54.89.The Irish also dominated in the second varsity eight race as Kacy McCaffrey, cox, Kati Sedun, Kathleen Welsh, Jessica Guzik, Jenna Redgate, Elizabeth Specht, Megan Sanders, Danielle Stealy and Andrea Doud had a first-place finish in 7:09.17, winning the Grand Final more than four seconds ahead of the Hoya boat.”We craved gold at the Big East as a team today because for the seniors it was four hard years in the making,” McCaffrey said. “What made this day special was that it was a complete team effort with four golds and a team championship to show in the end.” Notre Dame’s Kathryn Long, cox, Katie O’Hara, Kristen Mizzi, Pamela Jefson and Ashley St. Pierre garnered another Irish win when their varsity four-boat won the Grand Final race. With a 7:36.66 finish, the Irish easily won, nine seconds ahead of their closest competitors, the Hurricanes.”There are no individual victories in rowing. It really has to be a group effort,” Long said. “It felt amazing to win the Varsity Four, but I was just as thrilled watching the other boats sprint for the finish line to take first place.” Finally, the Irish had equally an impressive showing in the varsity four-race, taking first and fourth places in the Grand Final race. Notre Dame’s “A” crew of Caitlin Rackish, cox, Sarah Keefer, stroke, Meredith Thornburgh, Kristin Henkel and Tricia David won the race in 7:35.74 ahead of the Orangewomen’s 7:56.41. Georgetown took third place in 7:56.76 while Notre Dame’s “B” boat of Shannon Lettieri, cox, Courtney Quinn, Ann Mulligan, Meghan Chidsey and Jennifer Connolly finished fourth in 8:00.29.”We managed to win all of the varsity races, which is an incredible accomplishment and a tribute to the hard work and dedication of this team,” Protasewich said. “I am so proud of all my teammates and their efforts, they are truly an inspiring group, and I know that we are thankful to our coaches for the great job they have done this year.” Notesu On May 15, the Irish will travel to Oak Ridge, Tenn. and compete in the Central Regions. The outcome of the regional competitions will determine whether Notre Dame will qualify for the NCAAs.”We are continuing to move closer to our goal of a team bid for NCAAs, and we plan to work very hard these next two weeks in preparation for the races in Tennessee,” said Protasewich.u The rowers’ success has not been limited to their time on the water. Several rowers were honored for their scholastic achievements at Monday’s Academic Excellence Awards Dinner. The dinner celebrated the work of 369 student-athletes who had a 3.2 cumulative grade point average or higher.Megan Sanders was named Notre Dame’s top student-athlete. Sanders, who is enrolled in the College of Science with a concentration in mathematics and life sciences, has a 3.997 overall grade index, has made Dean’s List all seven semesters to date and has earned a 4.0 in six of those semesters. Rowers Andrea Doud and Natalie Ladine were also honored for their 4.0 grade point indexes during the 2003-2004 season.”Academically, I thank God for blessing me with the intelligence and motivation to succeed here at Notre Dame,” said Sanders.” I am far from the smartest person on campus, but I am willing to find the time to make academics a priority. Athletically, I was not blessed with much natural talent, but I was given a strong work ethic. I have to work harder than others, but I feel the rewards are greater when I succeed because of all the time I put in.”