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Women’s Rowing: Irish claim Big East crown

Allan Joseph | Monday, April 26, 2010

In what Irish coach Martin Stone described as “perfect conditions” on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass., Notre Dame claimed the Big East title for the seventh consecutive year Sunday.

“There was a little bit of a headwind, but nothing that was unmanageable,” Stone said. “We just powered right through it.”

Not only did the Irish win the crown, but they blew well past the field, scoring 121 team points, 28 points ahead of runner-up Georgetown. The day culminated in a very comfortable six-second victory in the marquee varsity eight event.

“We won every event except for the novice four, in which we were second. We had a great team performance all the way around,” Stone said. “We swept it one year in ’07, but this might be the next best number of wins at the event for us.”

Stone said he was proud of his team’s ability to overcome any early challenges to their leads and to create and hold comfortable margins.

“In each of the races, you get challenged at some point. We dealt with the challenges pretty well,” he said. “In multiple cases we had the lead and established very good margins – we cleared the field.”

The team’s success earned the Irish multiple conference accolades. Stone and assistant coach Joe Schlosberg were named Coaching Staff of the Year; seniors Casey Robinson and Brittney Kelly and junior Stephanie Gretsch earned first-team all-Big East honors while senior Sarah Keithley, junior Katherine Linnenstons, and freshman Stephanie O’Neill were named to the second-team squad. Despite the honors, Stone put the focus on his team as a whole.

“I think our kids did a really, really great job,” he said. “We had some goals in place, and we accomplished all of them, so it was great. We did really well today.”

The next step for the Irish is the South/Central regional event in three weeks in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Stone said he anticipates an extremely competitive, wide-open field that will push Notre Dame to its best; he sees up to 12 boats in the varsity eight competition alone that could earn a victory.

“It’s tough and it’s traditionally been a very great showcase of women’s rowing,” he said. “We’re looking forward to it— we’re starting to show some speed, and we’ll go from there. We have a long time between now and regionals.”

For now, though, the Irish will savor the feeling of continuing a dynasty before preparation for future postseason competition.

“We’re excited and we’re happy,” Stone said. “We’ll enjoy it probably ‘til tomorrow.”