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Veterans anchor promising squad

Joe Meixell | Friday, October 10, 2003

The Irish kick off their sixth season Saturday when they travel to Rockford, Ill. for the 18th annual Head of the Rock Regatta. The rowers, who ended the 2003 spring season with a second place finish at the Big East Rowing Challenge and a gold medal performance at the 2003 Central/South Sprints, are ready for fall competition.

Last year, Notre Dame’s varsity four boats took first and third places at the Head of the Rock, while the varsity eight crews had third, fifth and seventh place finishes. The Irish are working toward equally strong performances this weekend.

Martin Stone, a national Coach of the Year finalist in 2002, returns for his sixth year as head coach. He is flanked by assistant coaches Pam Mork – recently named Central Region Assistant of the Year – and Joe Schlosberg.

“Pam and Joe have been instrumental in developing our rowers,” Stone said. “Both have also been very active on the recruiting front.”

Twelve returning seniors complement the veteran coaching staff. Stone is confident that the team will have another triumphant fall despite the graduation of key rowers, such as captains Ashlee Warren, a 2002 All-American who earned her third consecutive first-team all-Central Region honor in 2003 and second CRCA National Scholar-Athlete Award, Casey Buckstaff and coxswain Cassie Markstahler.

Natalie Ladine, Alice Bartek, Danielle Protasewich, Kathleen Welsh and Jacqueline Hazen are among the seniors expected to assume the leadership positions that Warren, Buckstaff and Markstahler vacated.

“I think we have the makings of a very fine team,” Stone said. “We have high expectations of our team both on and off the water.”

The Irish have consistently met such expectations in the past. Each semester, the team has boasted an impressive overall grade-point average of at least 3.2 or higher. Ladine is one rower who has garnered honors for work both on the team and in the classroom. She has two years of experience in the first varsity eight and is a Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association National Scholar-Athlete. Last spring, Ladine was named a CRCA second-team all-Central Region winner for the second time. She also clocked the third-fastest erg score in Irish history last spring.

Ladine and the Irish look to start their season with a successful weekend at the Head of the Rock.