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ND Women’s Rowing: ND takes second in West

Sam Gans | Monday, April 18, 2011

As cold and rain descended upon South Bend this weekend, a trip to the warm, sunny west coast ended up paying dividends for the Irish rowers.

Notre Dame finished second in group B at this weekend’s Lake Natoma Invitational on Lake Natoma near Sacramento, Calif. The Irish were placed in that group Sunday based on Saturday’s race results.

The Irish earned their lone victory of the weekend in Saturday afternoon’s varsity four race when coxswain Christina Dines helped lead the team to a victory in 7:27.00, four seconds ahead of second place Stanford.

That result, along with those in Saturday’s varsity eight and second varsity eight races, placed Notre Dame in group B Sunday against Wisconsin and Tennessee. The Volunteers, the Irish and the Badgers all ended Sunday tied with 12 points, but Tennessee took first based on its 6:31.10 win in the varsity eight race. Notre Dame finished at 6:33.00 and Wisconsin clocked in at 6:34.00.

Notre Dame coach Martin Stone was pleased with the weekend’s results.

“I think that [the Invitational] went well,” Stone said. “The [varsity eight] today had a great race in beating Wisconsin and came up just a couple seconds short of Tennessee. So I think [it went] fairly successful. We finished against some very, very fast teams.”

While it was important to race well on the water, there were additional rewards to heading out west. The Invitational provided some great experience, with the Irish competing against Stanford, California and Brown, who have combined for six of the past seven national championships. Facing the tough squads could also prove beneficial when it comes time for selections to be made for the NCAA championships in late May.

“We want to race the best,” Stone said. “In our sport, you have to race very fast teams to get faster. And when the committee starts to look at who they think should go to the NCAA, they look and see if you went out and took a risk and raced somebody [good].”

With the Big East championships coming up in just two weeks, Stone is still looking for improvement. However, he is impressed with the team’s overall direction.

“Being strong individually within each race from each boat, there’s [still] some things to work on. But, generally, I think we’re just moving along, following the plan.”

The Irish will be in action next May 1 at the Big East championships in West Windsor, N.J., where they hope to secure their eighth consecutive conference crown.