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Rowing: Irish season starts with races at Tennessee, UM

Greg Arbogast | Friday, March 9, 2007

Spring break will exist in name only for Notre Dame, as the Irish are only a week away from beginning their spring season with a schedule that includes some of the top rowing teams in the country.

Notre Dame is coming off the most successful season in its history after winning the Big East team title in addition to achieving an NCAA team bid. The Irish will be look to garner their fourth consecutive Big East team title in addition to their second consecutive NCAA team bid this season.

But in order to reach these goals, Notre Dame will have to overcome a very challenging schedule.

“We’ve once again put together a schedule that will be very challenging and will help us gauge our improvement throughout the season,” Irish coach Martin Stone said in February. “Every year we’ve tried to upgrade our schedule. I believe that this year’s schedule is very tough and one that will test us throughout the spring.”

Notre Dame will open its season next Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn., when it takes on Tennessee and Minnesota. The Volunteers finished last season as the No. 2 team in the South region while the Golden Gophers were No. 3 in the Central region at the end of 2006. The Irish were No. 6 in the Central region last year.

The schedule does not get any easier the following weekend when Notre Dame travels to Ann Arbor, Mich. for a regatta against Michigan and Michigan State. The Wolverines finished 2006 ranked No. 2 in the Central region, and the Spartans were No. 4 in the region in the final poll.

The other notable meet on the Irish schedule is a trip to Redwood Shores, Calif., for the Windermere Real Estate Regatta – widely considered one of the season’s top meets – on April 14-15.

Among the participants will be Stanford, Washington, Washington State, California and UCLA, who together account for five of the top six teams in the final poll of 2006 for the West region.

The Irish will open up with two-time defending national champion California Saturday morning before racing Stanford that afternoon and UCLA Sunday morning.