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Solid Irish crew will face highly-ranked opponents

Christine Armstrong | Friday, March 26, 2004

This Saturday the Irish face another Top-20 team when they take on No. 2 Michigan and Clemson in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines, who took second place in the 2003 NCAA varsity eight race, will provide stiff the competition, but the rowers hope to build off of their solid Spring Break performances against No. 8 Michigan State, No. 13 Tennessee and No. 18 Duke.During the 2002-2003 season, the Irish had a difficult schedule, which concluded with a frustrating two-point loss to nationally ranked Syracuse in the Big East title race. This year’s competition promises to be equally difficult, as the Irish will face at least one Top-20 team each weekend. The Irish are not discouraged, though, and with returnees such as team captains Natalie Ladine and Katie Welsh, Alice Bartek – who holds the Notre Dame 2,000-meter erg score record – and Danielle Protasewich, the team is working to improve each week.”Challenging ourselves all season will hopefully put us in a good position as we go into Central Regionals, our most crucial race of the year,” said Welsh. “Our ultimate goal is to earn a team bid to the NCAA championships, and as invitations are extended only to the top twelve teams, it is essential that we face some of the best competition throughout the season.”Notre Dame’s performances on March 13-14 demonstrated that the team is ready to take on the best. The Irish held their own, winning six of their last 15 races against the Spartans and Lady Vols Saturday. The team garnered a varsity four victory and two novice wins over the Blue Devils the following day. “Last week’s competitions gave us a much better idea of where we stand as a team,” Welsh said. “Competing made us more aware of our strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of some of our biggest competitors.”

pare for the rest of the season.”