Notre Dame starts season strong at Oak Ridge
Brett O'Connell | Wednesday, March 18, 2015
The Irish opened their season this past weekend with a two-day regatta at the Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
The first day of the Invitational took place this past Saturday, where No. 12 Notre Dame won outright in one race and had competitive finishes in the rest of the races during its opening regatta.
The first varsity eight-man boat race opened its season in a heat that included Kansas, Alabama and No. 2 Virginia. The Cavaliers took the win with a time of 5:53.656, while the Irish claimed the second place position at 6:03.508. Kansas and Alabama came in third and fourth, respectively, each within milliseconds of each other and about 20 seconds behind the Irish squad.
The first varsity four-man event featured an identical lineup, with Virginia claiming its second victory with a pace time of 6:43.578 to the second-place Irish’s time of 6:52.626. The Cavaliers also won the third varsity eight race with a time of 6:10.166, while the Irish took their third consecutive second place finish with a time of 6:27.274.
The Cavaliers swept the remaining morning races, including the second varsity eight and varsity four. It was not until the first race of the afternoon session the Irish secured their only victory of the day in the first varsity eight race, where they posted a winning time of 5:56:767 — four seconds ahead of second-place finisher, Central Florida, and several seconds more in front of Louisville and Kansas.
The Irish finished outside of the top-two positions in only one heat during the first day, as the Irish third varsity eight claimed third with an event time of 6:29.808.
The constant competition with Virginia will prove a theme for the season as the Irish continue to aim for their goal of an ACC championship. According to junior Savannah Ryder, the Cavaliers stand as a benchmark team of sorts in their pursuit of a conference title.
“We want to follow in the footsteps of our basketball team and win the ACC championship,” Ryder said. “That will entail beating UVA, but we think that we are in a good place right now and that with our training over the next month or so we will be able to do that.”
Consistency proved to be the order of the day for the Irish on the second day of the Oak Ridge Invitational, where they claimed four second-place finishes in five heats. No. 9 Yale swept the Sunday event, but the Irish remained competitive, never finishing more than a few seconds behind the Bulldogs’ squad.
Ryder praised Yale’s talent and appreciated the opportunity to pace themselves against the squad.
“We don’t have a rivalry with Yale,” Ryder said. “We usually only race Yale at NCAAs. So it was unusual for us to race them this early in the season. They are a great team though, and it was a good chance for us to see where we stand against their program this early in the season.”
All in all, the team’s reaction to the weekend’s events were largely positive. Junior Jill Ryan lauded her teammates for their focus on technique and claiming the opportunity to get outside in the nice weather will allow for further improvement.
“The weather was a lot nicer than in past years,” Ryan said. “I think we covered a lot of ground technique-wise that we have been missing on the ergs. We have some unfinished business with Yale and UVA, but we’ll see them again later in the spring.”
Junior Joanna Mulvey echoed the benefits of their spring break trip to Tennessee.
“This year’s spring training trip was definitely one of the most productive during my time at ND,” Mulvey said. “The regatta at the end of the break involved more teams than usual, which was a great way for us to get into the racing mindset moving forward. Not every race played out the way we had wanted it to since the goal is always to win, but a lot of important improvements were made from race to race.”
The Irish will continue their spring season on March 28, when they head to Columbus, Ohio, for the Big Ten-ACC Double Duel.