WOMEN’S CREW: Team wins first ever Big East title
Kyle Cassily | Monday, April 25, 2005
The Notre Dame women’s rowing team joined some elite Irish company on Sunday when it took home the first ever Big East Championship.The women rowers joined three other teams taking home Big East hardware on the weekend, capturing the league crown along with men’s golf, women’s tennis and men’s tennis. The Irish rallied back from a disappointing regatta on Saturday against Harvard and Yale to defeat a competitive field of eight Big East teams, including a nationally-ranked Syracuse crew and a tenacious Boston College squad.This year is the first time that a Big East championship has been held. For the past four years the conference held a regatta “challenge” between its member schools. The past challenges were informal in comparison to this year’s conference-wide battle. Competition kicked off in the chilly waters of Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass., with inclement weather playing a large factor. Rough water and wind slowed down times across the board for the Irish, the second day in a row that the weather played such a large part in the action.The Irish victory was propelled by first-place finishes from supporting roles throughout the team. The first varsity eight could not garner a victory for the Irish on the day, leaving the job to the second varsity eight, first and second varsity fours, and novice four. The first varsity eight won its individual heat at 7:28.40 over crews from Rutgers, West Virginia and Villanova. Definitive times regarding the final race could not be determined because the race was delayed by the rough weather conditions. The Irish finished in second in the championship heat with Boston College Syracuse and Rutgers. Irish coach Martin Stone could not be reached for comment on any of this weekend’s races due to the weather delays and travel time from New England. The first varsity four paced themselves to a 9:48.45 finish, nearly 12 seconds ahead of runner-up Boston College. This key regatta victory was quickly followed up by another first-place finish by the second varsity four, defeating Syracuse by a margin nearly identical to their first varsity four sisters. Also unavailable were the times for the Irish second varsity eight victory. The Irish women joined both varsity fours in defeating the rest of the field, creating the foundation from which the Big East title was built. Rounding out the field of four victories on the day was the novice four crew, demolishing Georgetown by more than 30 seconds. The novice eight propelled itself to a second place finish 15 seconds behind the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers.It turned out four wins in six races was all the Irish needed to secure the championship, the second Big East win in a row after previously finishing in second for three straight years. Rough conditions were the least of the Irish women’s crew worries in a regatta with Harvard and Yale on Saturday.The Irish women managed to secure two victories out of the five races held, but the key first varsity eight race yielded a last place finish 15 seconds behind the two Ivy League schools. Harvard and Yale finished the race in a deadlock, even a freeze frame analysis of the finish line could not determine a winner. “We didn’t get out very well this race and that was disappointing,” Stone told und.com. “I’m not sure that we are 15 seconds slower than these two boats, but they clearly raced better than we did.” The second varsity eight performed much better than its accomplice, cruising into second place behind Yale by six seconds, but beating Harvard by nearly the same amount. “Our second varsity eight boat rowed a great race today,” Stone said. “It was our best second varsity eight race this season. Yale got out on us early, but we were right there with them at the end to make it a very competitive race.”The first varsity four shell rowed ahead of Harvard, but fell to Yale in its race on the day. The two victors for the Irish were the first novice eight and second varsity four/novice four. The first novice eight squeaked out a two second victory over both competitors amidst the rough whitecaps of the Charles River.The Irish finished in first and second place in the mixed fours race. The second varsity four took first, while the novice four followed closely behind in second. “Both of our boats got off well in this race and we just took control from the start,” Stone said.The Irish next go into action at the South/Central Regionals in Tennessee several weeks from now. The first varsity eight will look to secure a first place finish at the regatta in order to garner a second-straight NCAA Championship bid.