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Big East title in sight for No. 12 Irish crew

Joe Meixell | Friday, April 28, 2006

No. 12 Notre Dame enters Sunday’s Big East Championship at Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass. as the favorite to win the varsity eight.

The Irish will compete against Cincinnati, Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Rutgers, Syracuse and West Virginia in the event. It will be the first competition in three weeks for Notre Dame – which last rowed at the Indiana Classic on April 8 and 9 – in which the Irish defeated then-No. 15 Wisconsin in the varsity eight, finishing with a time of 6:55.80.

Notre Dame’s varsity eight team, consisting of junior coxswain Maria Romano, sophomores Julie Sobolewski, Amanda Polk, Mary Quinn, Laura Pearson and Allison Marsh, and seniors Melissa Felker, Meghan Boyle and Sarah Palandech, also finished second to reining national champs California in their second race at the Classic.

Despite the team’s success, Notre Dame has continued to work just as hard in practice to prepare for the Championship, Palandech said.

“We’ve been doing a lot of hard work, and we’ve been tired, but we’ve just been pushing on, getting stronger each day,” she said. “We want to row really well, go really fast and win as many events as we possibly can. We want to control whatever we can control.”

The Irish are making sure the high expectations and past results don’t affect their preparation or their performance.

“[The accolades are] flattering,” Palandech said. “But it’s not something that we can perform with. You still have to go out there, and the competition is going to be tough, and a label is not going to get the job done.”

Aside from not overestimating themselves, the Irish are making sure not to underestimate the competition.

“They’re really great teams, and they’re not something to mess around with,” Palandech said of the Big East competition. “Louisville looks like it’s a very talented team and Syracuse will also be a challenge, but it really depends, because there are so many different schools and events.”