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Rowing: Notre Dame advances to NCAA championships

Ernst Cleofe | Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Irish capped off a successful season with their ninth consecutive Big East championship. The team has since been selected for the NCAA championships.

From the start of the season, the Irish have competed at a high level against tough teams. But as the season went along and competition became stiffer, Notre Dame responded with constant improvement.

“Over the course of the season, we’ve made progress and I think we’ve evolved,” Irish coach Martin Stone said. “I think we’ve been getting faster as we have gone through the season.”

To open the season, Notre Dame headed to the Oak Ridge Invitational and competed against ranked teams Louisville, Tennessee and No. 1 Virginia. The Irish won ten races in the regatta and set the pace for the season.

“Overall, I think the team had a great start to the season,” junior Abby Meyers said. “We raced well against some tough competition and individual boats gained a lot of valuable experience racing together.”

Like the beginning of the season, Notre Dame finished out the season by dominating two regattas. First, the Irish closed out the regular season by winning every race in the Big East Invitational. The team even won every Grand Final races for the varsity eight, varsity four, and second varsity eight.

“The Big East Invite was a good measure and it gave us some confidence because we did well,” Stone said.
The Irish then opened their postseason with their ninth consecutive Big East championship. The team won five out of six Grand Final races, including the second varsity eight and varsity eight races.

“My favorite part of the year was definitely this past weekend winning first place in the Varsity Eight at Big East championships,” Meyers said. “That win took a lot of hard work and preparation starting back in September and through finals week. I just remember shouting ‘Champions!’ at some point before crossing the finish line. It was such a great feeling.”

The team earned a 14-point victory over Syracuse that catapulted Stone and the coaching staff to be named as the Big East Coaching Staff of the Year. Sophomore Olivia Kascits, junior Stephanie O’Neill, and senior Morgan Kelley were named to the first team All-Big East, while sophomore Courtney Gaberino and freshmen Erin Boxberger and Ailish Sheehan were named to the second team.

“Winning the Big East championships this year was a blast. It was such a great moment for our whole team,” Meyers said. “We’ve worked really hard this year, and for that work to pay off was a great experience”

On Tuesday, Notre Dame learned they were selected to compete in the NCAA championships, which will be held May 25 to 27 in West Windsor, N.J.

“Getting a chance to compete at the NCAA championships would be unreal. It would be such a great opportunity for this year’s team to show the rest of the rowing world just how fast we are,” Meyers said. “My teammates and I would love the opportunity to represent the University of Notre Dame proudly at such a prestigious event.”

Contact Ernst Cleofe at ecleofe@nd.edu